/christen kauffman

On Loneliness

When I walk the dog
in our neighborhood,
every light has a motion
sensor, even the raccoon
pulling peels from the trash
has a spotlight,
shameless intruder unmasked.
I watch as his body
disappears and returns,
treasure-filled, claws sunk
into a clear plastic bag.
Even though I’m afraid
of the small mouth
I know could draw blood,
I want to invite him
to sit on my kitchen floor.
I imagine the pot roast
and cauliflower served
in various bowls
he can pick from, as he likes,
water filled in my mother’s
porcelain cup. Perhaps this
is the true meaning of loneliness–
the way I’d invite teeth in
through the door
and offer them a place
to stay. Come with me,
little bearer of mites,
last taste of spoiled
meat before the flies lay eggs,
give me your hunger
for fresh baked bread.
This table is set for two.

Christen Noel Kauffman lives in Richmond, Indiana with her husband and two daughters. Her work can be found in Tupelo Quarterly, The Cincinnati Review, Willow Springs, DIAGRAM, Booth, Smokelong Quarterly, and The Normal School, among others.