This is not the most beautiful you’ve been.
I can say this with certainty, watching
a little drunk beneath the trees strung
with citronella lanterns. Your white skirt
lifted by June wind—laughing as you cut
the cake with a slim knife. It’s one of those
artisanal cakes with the sides scraped bare
& raspberries on top. No doubt it’s meant
to represent your spare sensibilities, easy
love for him. I take some before leaving
& once I am home, foolishly go to bed
with the slice tucked beneath my pillow.
This is what ladies did in old times to dream
about their future husbands. Like most nights
though, I only dream about you—you sitting
with your back against a vending machine
in the lobby of a Super 8 motel, green-lit
& eating a bag of potato chips. You saying Finally, I have been waiting all day for you
& lifting your body like a small heavy child.
I know something is wrong when the inside
of your mouth is sugary & stale with crumbs.
But still I follow you through the dim halls
& stairs, down to the door where your hand
pauses on the brass knob. Usually, it’s the cue
for the walls to dissolve into off-white mud.
But tonight, you open the door & lead me in
& nothing fades when we touch. It all happens
in a deep animal silence & afterward you say, Till now, I didn’t know the wanting could stop.
BIO Anna Kelley is pursuing an MFA in poetry at Syracuse University. She is a reader for Salt Hill. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cherry Tree, Literary Orphans, Up the Staircase Quarterly, CICADA, Split Lip Magazine, and others.