Back to Back
She flings her boots,
kicks dark scuff marks
halfway up the hallway wall,
then bangs the bedroom door
shut. He opens kitchen cabinets,
the refrigerator, dips chocolate chips
in milk. He flips through a magazine,
watches glossy models toss
soft kisses past his fingertips.
He puts the glass in the sink,
knocks on the door and sits
at the edge of the bed, plays
with her French braid. She clenches
her shoulders, grabs a fist
full of blanket, tucks it tight
under her chin and buries
her face in the pillow. He hisses,
"Go fuck yourself," throws
the door open. She lets out
a long breath, turns on her back.
Hands clasped behind her head,
she stares at the blank TV set,
bites her lip. He grabs
his jacket, walks to the corner
bar, orders scotch and water.
She dials her friend Robin
in Vermont, asks about Tom,
their two kids, if the basement
apartment is still vacant. He watches
a blonde in black jeans
lean against the juke box,
chew on red mixing straws.
She switches the stereo on, lays
the needle down, plays Jackson's
Late For The Sky. He leaves
the bartender a twenty, heads
home. She shuts the light,
gets in bed. He undresses
in the bathroom, stops himself
from kissing her and fits
quietly beneath the sheet. They lie
back to back. He pretends
to sleep, breathes evenly,
realizes she's not leaving him.
She counts the breezes that lift
the shade, lay thin lines
of streetlight across her face.
He listens for her breath
to slow down, lengthen, ease
into sleep. He imagines
that blonde, straddling his hips
and leaning over, licking
his nipples, moving lower, kiss
by kiss and jerks off.
She keeps still, listens.
First published in Mudfish