I’d sleep on their linen,
eat their food, take up the air, confess
I did not look as good as I think I do
in their mirror. I kept the toilet silent
with a banner of ventilation fan.
I took the shortest showers, emerging
into the room the host wanted as his office;
for breakfast ate their Chinese-takeout rice.
I spread unease with coffee cups
like bastards appearing
each evening oddly placed in their décor.
I sweated. I shed DNA. They wished
me invisible, wouldn’t look me in the face,
and I cried as inflammation will, to release the heat
and dry and cool, and lay my cheek on faded sheets.
Carefully gone ten hours a day
so as not to discommode or interfere,
I found they seemed to hate me more. They’d invited me.
This they forgot. I hovered like a spirit.
They wouldn’t let me houseclean. If only I would go,
they could be themselves again. If only I were curable,
attackable as tuberculosis. They threw antibiotic
misanthropy at me. I smiled. I ran out of jokes.
They drove me to the airport, delighted by this one
last task, as an illness parts from linens
inspirited with bleach, as if their closet
had never held the two hangers lent me.
I was not family. I’d dripped toothpaste lather
and weird, unfamiliar shampoo, like pus
in a bottle, into fixtures.
They high-fived at my receding figure.
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