On the way to work, I call my parents, and they answer in speaker, describing the fall colors aligning I-70, as they head west into the mountains, a lunch date with decades-long friends. My mom tells me about their friend’s daughter divorcing after forty years, forty years, can you believe it?, she repeats, and I respond by reminding her that Al and Tipper Gore did the same. Our connection starts to break, so we say we’ll talk later, and I think about my, really our, twenty-seven years, how I still get excited when you have meetings on my campus and wander the office corridor, greeting all my long-term colleagues turned friends, your leather loafers replacing grad-school, high-tops, a striped tie where you rest sunglasses on Saturdays. I feel our time yet not at all—wouldn’t be surprised to find a soft pack of Marlboro Reds in your T-shirt pocket except for your desert asthma—your forehead strokes gentle, the same. Don’t get me wrong: I understand how people tire at any age, why shouldn’t they enjoy their golden years, sixty being the new thirty and knee replacements common. I wonder would we have the energy, training new lovers or explaining my zipper scar you stroke to prove you’re not an imposter? What about all our relatives? Would we open a 23andme account to provide a family history cheat sheet for the next cousin’s wedding? And, all the Seinfeld or places we’ve lived references, not to mention the nicknames (“Mr. Malaprop,” “The General,” “The Worried Woman Pharmacist”) or the memorial services where we’ve slid hands under one another’s seated thighs. I know I will still shut the cabinet door too hard after you again leave it open to clunk my head, or yell for you when you’ve just stepped into the kitchen behind me; just let me know when you need me to go for a drive or climb a mountain, and I’ll pick up your prescription on the way home.
Amy Lerman was born and raised on Miami Beach, moved to the Midwest for many years, and now lives with her husband and very spoiled cats in the Arizona desert, where she is residential English Faculty at Mesa Community College. She received her Master’s and Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Kansas, and her poems have appeared in Rattle, Smartish Pace, Common Ground Review, Prime Number Magazine, Solstice, and other publications.