He hadn’t expected to feel her bone
under his palm, or the way her head
moved fluidly, pivoting in response to the force
of his calloused hand. Another day,
earlier, there had been flowers in a vase
by the window, waiting as she walked
through the door. Pork chops sizzling
in the skillet. He’d remembered a vegetable
and to set napkins under the forks
after a moment of hesitation, wondering
if it should be the spoon with the napkin,
or the spoon paired with the knife. An effort
to make her smile and love him caution-free,

drop her defenses and stop
looking at him like that, out of the corners
of her eyes, gaze a question mark floating.
Her purse on the straight-back chair pushed
hard into the wall by the front door, leaving
marks, no gouges, in the beige paint. His answer. If
only she hadn’t.

September 2013
Julie Ayers


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