After He Leaves
Right about now, eight months later,
I imagine my ex- at his kitchen table,
listening to the radio in his underwear and socks.
A song comes on and he’d like to dance,
to take a turn across the living room, down the hall,
only there’s one to put his arms around,
no true love with whom he might lift a glass
or digest the news. No one who could cause
his heart to quicken in that massive chest.
Right about now, I imagine him doodling
or filling in the spaces of a crossword puzzle,
filling in the gaps with a woman here and there
who will delight him for about as long as it takes
to change the sheets, which he will launder
and hang to dry, flapping from a stretched line.
Here at home I roll out the dough for lemon tarts,
season roasted potatoes and rosemary chicken,
grind coffee from Arabica beans in the Cuisinart
he bought last November. The gears and blades
growl in sharp precision, the grind spilling
into a plastic cup I wash while listening
to the radio without static, a clear signal
to dance to on a starlit night and I will
nestle in fresh sheets, mid-bed, alone.
Ants file up the Banyan tree as the pool boy
hands me a soft, white towel. Down on the ocean
striped flags flutter from yachts. Women in gold
jewelry, black bathing suits, glint like waves,
white-capped, brilliant. Under the cabana, I work
my puzzles, write a few lines, remember when
you were here, too, snoring under the umbrella,
your canvas shoes loafing poolside. A waitress
in pink flip-flops asks if I’d like anything
to drink. Her ponytail bobs like hope,
up and down, up and down. I order
seltzer with lime, apply more sunscreen,
lie a while longer on the canvas lounge,
almost reach for the phone to call you.
Moonlight creeps through linden leaves,
casts long shadows on sidewalk slab.
The last train’s passengers hurry by
(newspapers tucked under their arms),
chatting of wine and weekend plans.
Once their goodbyes dissipate,
a silence settles in, sweet and lonely.
Under a café table, a cat cleans herself,
stretching and licking, certain in the dark,
in its intimate protections.
I sit on a wrought iron bench to mull over
the day’s events, nursing a drink
and the closed buds of tulips,
the bits of paper littering the grass.
Soon enough I’ll climb the steps
to my rented room, turn the iron key
in the great brass lock. For now, I coax
a pigeon to coo, to sing to me, tonight.
I turned my face toward the sun.
Meanwhile, fattened bees hummed
and darted, ferrying treasure.
Secrets abounded, the wind lay soft
and someone’s mower grated grass.
I knew not where the day’s long glance
would take us, could not lodge
its urgent plea. The dog slept
under the chaise as my shin bones
bronzed. As I dozed, I thought
I saw you, again a child, running
through the garden, a dangling hose
wrapped around your forearm,
but it was only a scarlet milk snake
at the edge of the trees, hissing.