Issue 158, Spring-Summer 2001
You didn't light my cigarette.
Offered your lighter so I could light it myself.
Recall the white room I took you to
when you could not breathe?
Reader, please, it's called chivalry.
Five years you've lived since that night
and you won't offer a flame?
You lay purple in the emergency
room, stuttering on the syllable of your name.
To think I actually prayed.
When the blood drained from your face,
you rose new and strange, a white flower.
Your leaving felt like atrocity.
I should not have said it.
Yes, you, as one loves a saint.
Let us speak of another night,
how the moon struck the sky with its sickle
and we lay as two halves in a decrepit
hotel room in New France,
let us order more whiskey.
Reader, it was the funniest thing—
after you left I stood in the parking lot,
leaned back against a parked car, smoking.
Reader, they called security.
A uniformed man appeared in the doorway.
The light from his flashlight traveled
over me—exposed, derelict.
He approached me cautiously.
Ma'am, are you a guest here?
I nodded soberly, though the whole night
shook me till I was so dizzy
I laughed. Your eyes are like hands
dipped in blue paint, they grab and grab.
Sometimes, reader, I wish they'd taken
me away, right there and then.