Our last summer
I wipe down the upstairs windowpanes.
I hear the faucet in the kitchen; the gurgle as the coffee maker clicks on.
You pour black liquid into a white cup all sturdy and sure.
Your lips cool and aggressive on the hard porcelain.
I have worked on these windows since spring
and I know the grime must be painted
to be made new.
I don’t tell you this.
You are tired of paint,
of my hands touching parts of this house:
The green drapes I hung in the living room,
the brass lock on the door;
I tripped on the top step—
the shaky one that gives away the age of this place.
I stand with you and start to say “I’m sorry,”
but there’s no need.
You agree to tuck me in at night.
The gray comforter reaches my chin.
Your hands search for me
and I think of the coat rack next to the stairwell—stiff and cold.
The next morning I see where my fingernails
left imprints on your back.
The mourning doves purr deep vocals
inside their chest
outside the window.
My mind wanders and
I wonder if your skin will darken this summer.
I wonder when I will stop cracking that floorboard out of place.
I met you in the grocery store.
You bought ramen noodles and food for your fish.
How many colors there were then.
All orange and blue
and your eyes, green.
I thought how simple to watch the sunset.
You took me to the lake on New Year’s Eve.
You said: “The water is frozen here at the shoreline,
but a little ways off you can hear it lapping up against the ice.”
You were right:
There’s no silence. Only a pause before the next beat.
I walk through town, the smell of the foundry and bakery:
sugar and soap,
all that is sweet and clean.
My feet, new in flats,
hard hit the pavement of this June morning.
The sun clips along ahead of me.
The steps keep coming if I take them,
but I am careful.
There are cracks to fall into.
One reckless verb
is all it takes.
Rori Meyer is a writer and teacher who lives in Grand Rapids, MI. Her work has previously appeared in Superstition Review and Pine Hills Review, and is forthcoming in Jelly Bucket.