Last Dance with Mary Jane
by Nina Bennett

Miguel shows me his bag of dope
at every counseling session.
I keep my expression neutral,
refuse to be drawn in when he asks
if it looks like good shit.
We then spend 30 of his 50 minutes
discussing his paranoia. He worries
that he is being ripped off, that his dealer
thinks he is stupid because his English
is poor. I use every maneuver I know
to redirect the session, but each week
we end up gazing at the baggie
he pulls from his backpack.

This week Miguel doesn’t show up,
doesn’t call to cancel, doesn’t answer his phone.
Today I see the article, buried
in the crime section of the newspaper. Shot
in the back, he bled out on the sidewalk,
died alone, three doors from his home.
Outside my window, daffodils bow their heads
as a spring shower cleanses the street.

Nina Bennett is the author of Forgotten Tears A Grandmother’s Journey Through Grief. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals including Requiem, Tipton Poetry Journal, San Pedro River Review, The Summerset Review, Bryant Literary Review, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, The Broadkill Review, and anthologies such as Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on HIV/AIDS. Nina is a contributing author to the Open to Hope Foundation.