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
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
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.