Heather Altfeld is a cook, dishwasher, and expert folder of copious laundry who happens to write poetry and fiction in her abundant free time. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and is an adjunct professor in the English Department and the First-Year Experience program at California State University, Chico. She also works as the Area Coordinator for the Butte/Glenn/Shasta/Tehama counties in Northern California. She has served as a Children's Librarian at the local Waldorf-methods primary charter school in Chico, California, where her two eldest daughters attend. Her interest in and knowledge of Children's Literature has been a lifelong endeavor of joy, and her publication, " 1001 Wonderful Books: A Guide for Parents and Teachers " is now in print. She lives with her daughters Sophie (11), Lucy (nearly nine), and Eleanor (6), along with Butternut, Annabelle, and Millicent, their three cats. Her collection of poems, entitled, "On the Last Day of Love," is forthcoming. She is available to lecture on children's literature and to teach writing workshops for children and adults of all ages.
On the Last Day of Love,
the bars closed early, so people could pair off
for the night. Cats crawled into the crook
of dogs' necks. Squirrels brought out all the acorns,
laid them up like party favors in their little oaken homes.
Wine arrived from dusty cellars,
all the best vintages. Television showed perfect couples
from all over the world, and those who were alone
watched on, nibbling at cold turkey dinners,
viewing the night that was to end all nights,
the last time stars were to be admired,
the last time songs sung to the pale coin of moon.
Lovers waited in lengthy lines
to be swaddled in Venetian gondolas,
before the boats would be cocked up
against the cool stone walls,
whispers of passengers evaporating
in the early breeze.
Teenagers lay scratch in deserted parking lots everywhere,
strewing gym socks and panty liners in their haste.
Valentines littered the streets like confetti,
little cutout hearts whipping in the night wind.
Do I need to tell you what kissing there was?
Do I need to tell you there was fucking? Do you know
that drugstores ran out of condoms, because nobody
wanted to bring a child into a loveless world?
And where were you, on this great edge of everything?
Was that you, biting the thin hem of your lip
as you raised a rubied glass to the end?
Was that you passed out on the sofa,
gnashing remorse between the jaws of your sleep?
Was that you, flayed awake in panic
during those last wee hours,
knowing you'd forgotten something--
the Citibank bill, pork chops thawing on the counter,
something you'd wanted
from the store. Counting sheep, neat scotch,
bottle of pills in your quaking hands,
nothing could offer you rest
in that pale tundra of bedding
but the sun, which finally rose,
hopelessly warm and pink
in the new sky, promising nothing
you couldn't name, or even know to want.
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