Tony Gloeggler

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I wake to the sound of a shovel
scraping the ground below my window
and the thought that first touches
my mind is snow: all night, thick white,
covering the sidewalks, the streets,
and one person digging a path from here
to there. But it’s July. The city’s sweltering
and Washington Heights is still without
power. I hear a baby crying across
the courtyard and all I can think about
is the night I met my girlfriend outside
the office she worked part time as a clerk.
She kissed and held me, had to tell me twice
that Thurman Munson had died in a plane crash
before I started to believe her. It was, I think,
a Thursday. We were going to Central Park
to hear John Sebastian sing Lovin’ Spoonful
songs. After the show she told me she made
a clinic appointment for Monday, my one day  
off. She wasn’t ready to be a mother. Maybe

Someday, she said. I was young and dumb
and in love, and I would have done anything
that girl wanted; cut my hair, wore a pin striped suit
and worked on Wall Street. I would have married her,
moved to Montreal. But I was happier to stay
boyfriend and girlfriend, sit in the waiting room
and turn pages in magazines while the doctor sucked
and scraped her insides clean. Our daughter
or son would be grown by now. We might have tried
harder to stay together, found some way to make
each other happy, or hurt each other even deeper.
Instead, it’s six-thirty, Saturday morning and I know
I’ll never get back to sleep. I walk to the window,
find a cat curled on the fire escape, opening her mouth
and crying like a baby. I lean out, try to reach her. 
But she’s too far away. I want to rub the fur under
her neck, fill a bowl with milk. I want to grab her
by the throat, drop her four stories, see if she lands
on her feet. I want to know what it will take to stop
that god damn shovel from scraping the ground again.

Published in The Ledge

Tony Gloeggler is a native of NYC and manages group homes for the developmentally disabled in Brooklyn. His books include two full length collections One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press, 2000) which went into a second edition and The Last Lie (NYQ Books 2010). Until the Last Light Leaves was published in 2016 by NYQ Books.