She sits in the shower
and he swirls down the drain.
The unstained oak is rough against
her naked feet. Un-sanded burs catch
and splinter. They were going to finish
the deck. She watches the sun dissolve,
Alka-Seltzer for the sea.
She has the shower hot—
her skin cherries and the steam chokes.
But she can still feel him. Fingers
brushing hair behind her ear. Lips part—
breath escapes. Eyes open,
and it’s just steam.
The sun is gone. She watched it dip,
reflected in the patio door’s glass.
Her hand sticks to the handle, eyes locked
on the darkness.
Eyes wide to keep them dry.
She walks past the coffee table—
ghost rings where he didn’t
use the coasters, a plate with bread
crusts. The newspaper.
She doesn’t look down. Refuses to read
what she knows is there.
Her skin is raw. Burning.
The hot water will run out—
she stays. Stays where she can feel him.
Feel his arms, the press of his lips
before the cold comes on.
She visits when I sit alone,
hands sliding across my face
to cover my eyes. The childhood
game I can never win.
I feel her expanding and swelling,
deflating, her hair waving across
the back of my neck—
the tidal pull of the gravity of us.
She melts behind me, barely shifting,
and her arms hold. I pretend she is warm.
I pretend the house around me
is not filled with fast food bags
and soda cans,
and the TV paused on some show
about a guy or a girl placed
in an awkward situation.
A supposedly live audience laughing.
I pretend I can feel her breathing,
feel her skin and breath and body
pushing against mine comfortably.
She teases the ring on my finger,
twisting around and around
until I open my eyes, and pull
my hand away from the polished ring,
look past the coffee table of cans
and bags, and fight the ache.
A garbage bag eats the trash—
fills with emptiness as it gets full.
Now, the living room is clean. Bare.
she always asked me to
wash them. Scrub away
stains and crust, like picking a scab.
A glass cracks, absorbs the pressure
of my ring on its surface.
I stand at the sink, broken
glass in hand as laughter drifts
from the TV.