How to Put Everything at Stake
I used to think our names were our anthem,
the way you called me like most evenings
and silenced the chorus of cicadas.
Yours was just as beautiful as bird song.
But this time that is not the case, our calls
barely audible over the whistling kettle.
When I turn the water tap on, I could only wish
the gush is your murmur of mint behind my ear.
Today, what I promise about hanging
the wedding pictures and cleaning up the rooms,
one for us and two for the pledge of our bond,
I could not carry on. The walls are making themselves
known, the floors suddenly copious and too open.
I would explain when you arrive home,
but after dinner all you could ever ask is,
"Where are the cards? Let's have one round."
Always, I could remember shuffling the deck
and dealing each night, the cards grazing
against the grain of the wooden table.
I could remember you shaking your head,
a heart in your hand instead of diamonds,
as I say, "Believe me, I got no tricks in my sleeve."
But like a roof bleached by too much sun,
your face would crumple in silence.
I could remember pushing my chair back,
leaving you with your cup of coffee.
I know you smoke a stick or two later,
just outside the room next to ours, empty.
Maybe we are just as good as our deck of cards,
its kings, queens, and jacks static and fading,
our many dry fingers desperate to yank
whatever they keep in their tight, medieval lips.
By F. Jordan CarniceQLRS Vol. 11 No. 3 Jul 2012