Ava C. Cipri
Another Open Window

Afterwards, isn’t it just like a writer to ask me if he’ll end up in one of my poems? Is this a bylaw, the consequence of keeping such company? And how will you process it? Is it when you tell me you’re writing a sultry short story that keeps declaring itself, exorcising your obsessions?

Here you are, my friend, smack in the middle of my work. Are we truly friends, yes, sometimes, and often something else, ohm . . . this is the plank of uncertainty I pace out.

I know the night I noticed you: Starbucks; when we spoke of Levine’s working class as our common denominator. Winter pressing itself against the glass: frost etching its veined language beside us. You, carve my name across the chessboard between us, three squares for each letter.

I know the hour: 8:00pm, the intersection outside St. Stephen’s Church and 5th, where you pulled back your weight on the guardrail and watched me walk toward you. The season’s holly bushes beaconed behind you, as you postured in your navy peacoat.

I know the moment(s) I saw you: crying after Straight Story, walking away hurt before Christmas, rude on the phone, short/ confused/ accusatory with me, and at times demanding to know my silence without authorization.

A man invested in his house and its restoration; each room, an attempt to hide from himself. Building the internal; in an effort, to not deal. So, when you tell me you found a spider in the cellar and killed it, I’m not surprised. But, when you say you felt remorse and say you’ll never do it again because it didn’t feel right, I secure a sense of hope for you . . . for us . . . how selfish of me.

I told myself, Ava, don’t buy into the projected dream, as I walked those halls. And in its center, the kitchen, where you announced a claim to my future-- I held on to the counter for balance, with you kneeling before me looking for a saucepan. The open collar of your shirt, your neck promised me the beginnings of a tattoo I might one day learn where its five lines lead.

This is why, when I heard you couldn’t find salt for your front steps, it came to me that I could give you this one gift. That Christmas disappointed with distance and Valentine’s Day would not fit us either. And I knew you would know what to do. Salt; three packets in my hand. Immediately, you said, “thank you,” like I had given you some golden tokens. I expected more laughter, but you were serious.

Funny, how this hits me now. And telling me you were going to put it on your steps, tonight. What a lovely gesture. The salt I had given you. Back in the snow-screened night among friends, I stood. I could have cared less about history. I smiled. So, dear reader, you see my confusion, with a man, who is a friend, and I didn’t even tell you about the angel or the car.