Cynthia Arrieu-King


I’m waiting for the eggs to reach room temperature.
I’m not sure if it’s better to read all the Flannery O’Connor stories
in a row or one a summer so I have something to live for.

My father used to receive his chocolate out of the Lindt box
and set it on the arm of the sofa
where it stayed through the entire opening of the Christmas presents.

My father used to open his presents with a knife-edge to the Scotch tape
so that the whole piece of paper fell from the gift, not a tear.

Tomorrow the internet will come on in this place and I regret not waiting longer,
so many hours filled with the intent to be lost.

I watch each man laugh at entirely different things than I would.
I fire them one by one, tell them sorry. Stephanie tries not to read
more than four books at a time, young and wise.

How in this confusion could we accumulate things to love?
Not even paintings escape being thought of
and waited for. Slowly—
the thought of this living room
and everyone I truly love gathering.

The cherished dead, alert on this futon. They
party with the living, those daily-called
and the long-departed from my life. Din of dishes. Accents.

A wind heaves, the power line pops.
Outside, a mob sound rises and all I see are people
pour from their houses with children in cloud-stamped pajamas.

Cynthia Arrieu-King is assistant professor of creative writing at Stockton College. She lives in Philadelphia. Information about her work is available at

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