My grandfather would loosen his tie
then his collar, fingers in to the side,
a tug or two, a harsh whisper
phew and a grumble hot in here, even
when it was brisk by the window.
He’d open it more, and we’d hear
my grandmother’s over-the-shoulder plea
from where she leaned at the sink
or at the oven checking the chicken,
such a chill you’re letting in.
Each had an embodied opinion.
But it was never the temperature.
Two in one life, same bed all the nights
a tent of communion of scents, confusion
of twin breath-hollows, memories
braided into a confluence, and the one
emptiness blown in under the sash
all there is to fill in the absence
where the kids were—how can we live
like this and keep our hearts wrapped
in our separate skins? How do we not
collapse into a plasm, a blur?
They yelled at each other. Maybe that
helped—provided a chasm.
He huffed and couldn’t sit still.
She stood and cooked. Did they ever
kiss? The window skirmish went on
till he was lowered. Then she’d sit down
at the kitchen table in the cool air
she’d let waft in, and wait for him.
—Previously published in Common Ground Review 18:1 (Spring/Summer 2016); appears here by author’s permission
lives in Seattle. His poetry collections include Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), the chapbook The Nameless (Finishing Line Press), and a chapbook forthcoming from Egress Studio Press. His work has received Southern Indiana Review’s Editors’ Award, the Literal Latte Poetry Award, Blue Lyra Review’s Longish Poem Award, and the McLellan Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Painted Bride Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, Cider Press Review, Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Cultural Weekly, and elsewhere.