Palmistry and Absence

Laying in the dew-covered grass like
two rag dolls, green stained denim
and bare toes.

He traces the lines of her palm with
his forefinger.
Long life, love, happiness…

The certainty of her hand subdues
the uncertainty of her heart.
But doubt is imperishable.

He tells her two years isn’t so long,
time passes quickly.
He’ll be back soon.

She plucks a dandelion from the
ground and whispers to it.
The wind carries her wish away.

He asks what she wished for, pauses
for her response, waits an eternity.
She recites the lines of the Birthday Song.

Laundry Day

Meche lugs the hamper
down the hall.
Monday is laundry day
and at approximately
the gravel-voiced
American woman
from 4B will be
retrieving her various
and freeing the
only operating washer.
The entire contents
of the hamper
are dumped
and darks bleed on whites
during the spin cycle.
Meche waits in the
plastic chair
by the window
facing the Jewelry Emporium.
That’s where he bought her ring
before he enlisted
before he left her here
to sit and wait and rot
in a studio
with a public washer and dryer.

The day at the station
he imitated her
subtle lisp
so characteristic of Madrid.
She handed him his bag
and sent him on his way

The washer buzzes.

1:30 Flight to Caracas

The call came one hour before you
were supposed to land.
I imagined you on the plane,
anticipating your arrival
after a nine-year absence.

There was no way to tell you,
save you from heartache.
The news would be waiting
at the terminal,
with the rest of your luggage.

Your cousin said it was
his liver;
all those years of heavy drinking.
The crack in her voice was
followed by the dial tone.

Your return home will be
accompanied by mourning,
worsened by my many questions.
I never knew him.