The brown dog is back, sniffing our garbage cans before the men come and haul it all away. I watch him from our window as I scratch time-fused nacho cheese from these, our wedding plates. Two greasy courses I had last night, separated only by that bottle of Chianti I found in the dresser. I grow fatter and drunker each day you’re gone, and missing you is invading all my inside spaces. There are times the ache chokes me, and I have to stretch my neck to breathe clear-enough air.
That stray has scavenged a jar of peanut butter from the trash. He carries his catch into the road, and wedges himself between the curb and an old Ford. Into his city den. I scrub the plate and watch him, his muzzle buried inside his glorious jar. Water rushes over my hands, and I think only of your mouth.
And you appear, walking down the sidewalk toward our building. My eyes sting. My God, you’re wearing that jean jacket. Stone-washed denim, of all things, wrapped around my favorite shoulders. You are walking slowly and smiling in your mysterious way. There is your celebrated, thick hair; I see it from above, from this window through which neighbors once spied us dancing.
Hunger leaps through me, and I am on fire. I will toss this plate through the glass, jump down the two stories and fling my body against yours. You walk so slowly. My legs course with blood, ready to sprint down the stairs, to carry my lips to your ear. I will whisper ‘Sorry,’ and kiss your salty neck.
You stop to pet the dog. In the time it takes him to snap your hand away from his peanut butter, I have you back in our bed. My head nestles against your shoulder. I smooth your chest hair and smell your light sweat. My body tingles as we listen to Bahar and breathe together. Our muscles press together and my body is ionized with being wedged into the only arms that fit.
In my mind you are already shirtless, but there you still are in the street. I watch from the window, watch you disappear up the building’s front steps. The plate shatters against the sink. I stash the Chianti into a cupboard, pull up my hair and pop blueberry gum to cover fusty breath. Books and ashtrays and dirty clothes are all shoved into the closet. I wait.
Wait too long. I hear no footsteps from the stairway. I open the door and there is nothing, no one, not you. Returning to the window, I see only your jean-clad back. There’s a stack of mail in your perfect hand. And I cannot move or speak, or stop you.
This day cannot be carried through: its strays and garbage-can meals, its epoxied cheese and squeak of sponge against china, your badly-dressed body and retreating legs.
I throw yet another blanket over our bed. When will my sin be covered? When will you put that one mistaken night away? You can return and we will sleep next to each other, on this makeshift mattress of absolution. Today there aren’t enough blankets. There is not enough wool or cotton or satin. Instead I find my spot on the floor, and curl up, and scavenge for some sleep, so I can dream of you.