Losing Wait

by Tina Harris

My friend writes from prison
that he is “losing wait.” I think
he means “weight” since he goes
on to say he sweats everything out
in the un-air-conditioned trailers
he’s housed in during Alabama’s
August; he writes he can’t win back
his appetite after de-beaking chickens
at Tyson’s from six to four each night.

I want him to be losing wait.
Each passing minute shortening
the time until he wraps his arm
around my waist, his hand on
my round hip, and says, “Girl,
you’re looking good to me,”
while I smile and say, “You too.”

But I worry he means he can’t wait
anymore, worry that he is losing
the weight that holds him there, keeps him
from slipping between the cracks
like a penny that would slide into the storm
drain if it weren’t for a finger
pressing down to catch it.

Tina Harris, former editor of Aura, UAB’s literary arts review, is currently earning a MA in creative writing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also teaches creative writing at Birmingham’s Work Release Facility for women.