An Ardent Accounting

by Elizabeth Mulcahy


  1. Number of times I met you before I fell in love with you
  2. Number of weeks we had together at the end of the summer when we first met before we both moved away to different places
  3. Number of days it took you to drive straight through from Detroit to San Francisco
  4. Number of times you came to visit me at school
  5. Number of people unable to convince me you were on drugs
  6. Number of mix tapes you made me
  7. Number of times we went to that Thai restaurant
  8. Number of months we were actually a couple
  9. Number of weeks we ever spent in the same city at the same time
  10. Number of items that can’t be counted due numerosity or because I don’t want to know:
    • Number of letters we wrote to each other and subsequently destroyed
    • Number of diary entries I wrote about you
    • Number of hours I spent on the bathroom floor of the apartment I shared with five roommates talking to you on the phone
    • Number of promises you didn’t keep
    • Number of your letters I sent back to you to remind you of the promises you didn’t keep
    • Number of ways we disappointed each other
    • Number of lies I told you to try to make you stay
    • Number of people I shut out of my life for you
    • Number of years it took me to get all the way over it
    • Number of times I inhaled the scent of you on the shirt you left behind


patrolling the new border.



Beth Mulcahy is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet whose work has appeared in various journals. Her writing bridges gaps between generations and self, hurt and healing. Beth lives in Ohio with her husband and two children and works for a company that provides technology to people without natural speech. Her latest publications can be found here: