So here I am at this conference and I was working on my novel when this image intrudes on my perfectly fine afternoon. I say “ok”” I’ll go with it” and damn if it doesn’t take me all afternoon to lead me around like I’m some poor jerk. I don’t feel like sending out poems anymore — too much time — so I’ll just post it — here ya go
He feels chest thump and vein bump, he bites back at the air refusing his lungs, forces teeth into the meat of his tongue to stop his eyes from welling, and he says a silent prayer. He folds his napkin and places it on his plate. He grips the table, feels the white cloth under his fingertips, slides his chair back.
He doesn’t make eye contact as he stands, turns, puts foot in front of foot, step after step, counts them off in his head 3, 4, towards the door, the gentle aroma of coffee tickles his nose before he is outside, surrounded by cold noises and impassive cityscape.
Hurrying now, faster, almost a jog, towards his apartment. No looking back. He navigates by cracks in the sidewalk. He judges distance by the building’s facades.
Home, he locks the door, lays down on the couch, puts his finger to his neck and feels the mad rush of blood pounding against the sea-wall of skin, and tries to breath.
He’d suffer tears now, no need to press teeth to cheek, but nothing comes except an elegy of breath. Soft. Simple. Like a history no one believes.
The sugar quivered in his spoon, his hand trembled as he maneuvered it over the cup, his body shook — a world falling down.
Once steadied, he thought of her. Those moments of quiet, the deep quiet, like the sound of butterfly wings opening and closing, the sound of hair hitting a wood floor, he gazed through the window, the sky muted grays and worn bricks.
Blowing steam he closed his eyes as if waiting for something, but nothing ever came. The table stayed put, the glasses didn’t rattle, the concrete and mortar didn’t dance, his body remained.
He imagined her in sparkling shoes and his t-shirt dangling her small frame. He thought about her hand on the knob, the small fingers gripping a wish for the brink of freedom, and him always pulling her back, with a tender joke “not dressed like that.” She’d respond “I have shorts on,” then hike his t-shirt revealing a smiley face on her stomach made from glitter. They’d giggle every time.
The moments stacked up, the memories were nip and tucked, the pictures were painted over; everything glossy and new.
The girl’s hand reached out between two bars of rebar, glitter scattered around the chucks of rock, gold-dust, a bluff of light trembling something beautiful.
Her palm opened toward the ceiling, a song reaching for the threshold, while drywall dust muted the harmony.
With concrete eyes, he could not trace the rubble through the fissures, he could not trace the bone to the body, he could not see his fingertip whorls filled with glitter.