R Stage

The landlord had been trying to get Dottie out
since last year.
She’d gotten paperwork warning
she needed to vacate
be New Year’s Eve.
She was eighty years old
with no nearby family to take her in
but the landlord thought
he could get more money
for the South Bronx industrial slum
third floor walk-up apartment.

“I don’t know why he’s doing this to me!”
Dottie would say,
at her most self-pitying.
“He wants us all out,”
I suggested,
“so he can renovate the building
and make a mint.”
“But what about us?”
She said, “Fuck him.”
“Fuck him,” I agreed
and still do.

The stress of the eviction
made her final months no easier.
She was searching for nursing homes
or subsidized housing
or hospices
while convalescing those last few days.
She didn’t know that they were her last days
but she was pretty sure
she wouldn’t be walking up those stairs again
to her home of the last thirty years.

Fuck him.
He didn’t kill her
but he fucking helped
and probably knew it.
Fuck him again.

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