“Shit. I left my necklace on your nightstand.”
“I’ll grab it if you want to swing back.”
I pull the car up the snowy drive
for the second time.
He holds it out —
the charm that says “wisdom” —
and drops it into my open hand.
“‘Wisdom’ my ass,” he laughs and smiles.
I smile and mutter thanks or maybe sorry
and get back into the car.
The neckace clinks in my pocket,
and I remember what I said to him
before I left the first time –
that this would be the last time.
Wiser, I hope,
and drive home.
They’ve danced before.
circling one another
with calculated patience
and anxious nonchalance.
They’re evaluating —
risk of falling.
They start to move again —
separately, but in tandem,
watching and waiting
and tensing for action.
He cocks an eyebrow,
and when she smirks,
and prepares to leap.
I scrub my teeth harder than usual.
The brush is medium-bristled,
but my gums still ache
from getting the taste out of my mouth.
I clean more vigorously than usual.
The white washrag absorbs dark dirt,
and I wonder how I hadn’t noticed the buildup.
I launder more linens than usual.
The washer vibrates with the effort
of removing stale, set-in stains.
I dust more thoroughly than usual.
If it’s true what they say –
that dust is mostly dead skin –
then I’m getting rid of my old self
with every pass of paper towel.
Within an hour,
I’ve finally given myself
a clean slate.