Katherine E. Young

Planning Your Suburban Affair

You’ll need a map, though there’s no substitute
for local knowledge. Consider the parks, scout
their parking lots: note any trees that screen.
Walk the quieter paths, hear mulch crackle,
cock an ear for barking dogs. Check shrubs
for cover, picnic shelters – you never know
when it might rain. Weigh the likelihood
of snakes against the certainty of joggers. 
Buy condoms at a place where they don’t keep
your prescriptions on file, where you won’t meet
the checkout clerk at back-to-school night. 
Quick, think what you’ll say when someone rifles
your purse for stamps: “Let me, Hon, you never
find anything in there!” Take up yoga,
poetry, something to get you out at night. 
Now you’re off, eyes conning the dark. You seek
the hole between lampposts: bone in the throat
of the universe that buys you time. Watch how
cars flow, see their headlights sweep the shadows.
Check your pulse, register its spasm;
take off your wedding ring. Pack a flashlight,
fine, but you can’t ever turn it on.

Katherine E. Young is the author of Day of the Border Guards, 2014 Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize finalist, and two chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, Subtropics, and many others. Young is also the translator of Two Poems by Inna Kabysh; her translations of Russian and Russophone authors have won prizes in international competitions and been published widely in the US and abroad; several have been made into short films. Young is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts translation fellow and currently serves as the inaugural Poet Laureate for Arlington, Virginia. katherine-young-poet.com.