Dog poop and dirt are all over the streets. How many bugs have I trod on today? How many legs and antennae are stuck on my boots? When I come inside, I step directly into the kitchen.
The baby crawls around here.
He was making his way across the den in the dark when he brought the heel of his right foot down on it. Cursing under his breath he hopped and hobbled to the light switch next to the door so he could see what he had stepped on. It was the little sculpture that his boy, Jacob, had made that day from his Lego’s, or whatever the building block craze du jour was this afternoon. This one hurt, lots of sharp edges. He moved closer to examine it. Picking it up, he held it to the light.
It was interesting. It looked like a prehistoric creature, perhaps a pterodactyl or some other dinosaur whose name he did not know and would never be able to spell or pronounce. The creature appeared to be impersonating a waiter. His wingless left arm was held low in front of him, bent at the elbow. It needed only a towel or cloth napkin; crisp, creased, and draped carefully below his elbow to make the picture complete. His right arm was placed behind his back. The pose was formal, that of a professional and attentive server explaining the daily specials, or the wine list to a party of conventioneers. Conventioneers, who happened to be in town for three days. Three days where no one really expected them to work before returning to Omaha or Toledo or wherever it was that they came from. Good strong Midwestern stock. They would return to their frumpy wives and spoiled children; back to their Ford sedans and humdrum jobs; their erotic fantasies, their dreams about their own particular Cecilia. They all had a Cecilia who went by one name or another.
Cecilia, who worked in Marketing; Cecilia, with the long dark hair and voluptuous figure, Cecilia with the slight song in her speech that made her sound as though she might be Latin. Cecilia who wore short skirts and low cut blouses, whose dark eyes would flash with heat, conveying desire or disdain. Cecelia whose full lips, full breasts, and long legs those conventioneers would only ever dream of. Cecilia whom they would never approach, the risk was too great. They were, after all, regional sales leaders, with too much to lose. They had houses in the suburbs. They had families. They voted Republican and they attended church on Sundays – way too much to lose.
Placing the reptilian head waiter on the arm of the sofa he continued to the kitchen. Mandy had prepared the coffee pot the night before so that it would be ready for him this morning. He pushed the button to start it and wondered if Mandy knew he was thinking of Cecilia when he was lying with her. Wondering who Mandy thought of when she lay with him, he lit a cigarette and went outside to retrieve the paper.
I sit on the couch with my head in my hands.
Unnoticed, my cigarette falls from the souvenir ashtray,
slowly scarring the top of the veneered coffee table.
I stop pouring, rush to the door.
It must be you.
You’ve come back.
It’s not you at all though, it’s just the rain.
I return to my brown liquor. I return, to wallow in self-pity.
Three times I pull the door open.
Three times I rush to gather you into my arms.
Three times I am fooled by the rain and so;
3 times I crawl slowly… slowly back to the whiskey.
It’s late, after midnight.
I hear the rain at the door and ignore it.
I’ve learned my lesson. I won’t be fooled again.
It’s not knocking
it’s just the rain.
There is no answer at the door.
It’s two steps down from the stoop – to the pavement.
Your cab is waiting, engine idling softly.
The rain falling in front of the headlights is liquid fire.
In the cab you wipe your face, you wipe your eyes.
It’s not tears
it’s just the rain.
She pauses in her work
the man is staring.
Breathing through his mouth.
His breath smells of carrion,
rancid and dead.
She freezes in place.
Flamboyantly, yet tastelessly dressed,
a garish plaid waistcoat
an olive drab sports jacket.
Pomaded hair with a thick crust like a tortoise’s shell.
Uneven splotches of beard testify to a recent unfamiliarity
with a razor.
Eyebrows so long they are worn slicked back,
pointing towards his ears.
sprouting tufts. Hair growing like rye grass – proud
Drop the broom, she thinks
RUN, but she’s unable to move.
Not unlike a deer in headlights she can only stare.
With each passing second her eyes grow wider.
A soft mewling sound rises from her throat
as she whimpers in fear.
Is this it then?
Is this how it ends? In fear?
When her bladder releases; the warmth gives her purchase
She pivots on the ball of her foot,
like a dancer.
The broom falls unnoticed into the snow.
She begins to run.
away from his outstretched hand.
His hand that clasps only air. Not today…
Made from the heart, made with her hands.
She made it for me, not for some other man.
From paper and crayons with a large scoop of love,
A sketch of our family, seen as only she can.
Where is the daughter who colored for me?
Drew people, and creatures that only she’d see.
A life of her own where I’m not allowed
Where is that girl, quick to smile and so free?
That daughter is gone. Lost on the way.
I wish she was here now. For this thing I pray.
Drugs? Alcohol? The wrong set of friends?
The changes were subtle, and colored with grey.
The picture still hangs in a frame on the wall,
I linger and stare when I walk down the hall.
The daughter is gone but her memory’s here.
I lie awake nights, hoping she’ll call.
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