Unclasped from the long day,
her dress fallen to the kitchen floor,
she is standing stark on dark parquet,
my fingers down her spine, mid-kiss.
Things come off easily
from time to time—the buttons of my shirt
she neatly fingers free. I turn
perch filets in a puddle of hot butter,
mash and blend the tender fish
with horseradish ketchup,
lemon juice and Worcestershire
in a glass bowl. We’ve gone all week
without touching. She pours the Chardonnay,
lights a scented candle.
I scoop the mixture onto Saltiness,
add a dash of Tabasco to each dollop.
Our hands move quickly.
We eat what we hunger for.
Her Gone with the Wind hurricane lamp’s
soft, funerial light, hidden crickets bickering
in the floorboards, Autumn’s reds and golds
spinning outside. The mist-blanketed river,
cornsilk in empty fields—prefectures of loss—
a caucus of crows, black as a bible,
blooming on a strung wire, the grandfather clock
my mother left me announcing
another stoic hour, grief’s gloss and grace,
the pointless beauty of it.
Michael Steffen‘s fourth book, Blood Narrative, was recently published by Main Street Rag Press. His previous books include Heart Murmur, No Good at Sea, and Bad Behavior. New work has appeared or will appear soon, in Chiron Review, Panoply, and the Red Fern Review. Michael is an MFA graduate from Vermont College. He lives in Buffalo, NY.