Come, set down your current occupation:
Pull on your warmest socks
and stuff on your close-toed shoes.
Grab your wallet and your keys
and turn on the heat in your cold car.
Drive to my apartment.
Do not bother to knock—
I will be in the kitchen. You will arrive
and bend, unasked, to turn the knob,
and forget to feel uncomfortable
when you catch a whiff of sweet and savory
earth evaporating on the air. You will pause,
still, holding the knob,
still, breaching the threshold,
the soft scent wrapping softly around you,
surrounding you like the tilting chin
of my neck during the embrace
I was not bold enough to give you
when last we met.
Departing from the gray
hallway, your clothes will soften as you
simmer in sumptuous experience.
You will allow the unexplained familiarity
of scent to make you forget the need
to call out, questioning, Claire?
You will feel me in the warm
last breaths of disintegrating ingredients
that waft across my apartment toward you.
You will let the not-sweet not-stinking scent
repent for my unbequeathed embraces. Still
paused, you will widen your eyes and search,
stunned, for the body that must own
this intimate embrace. I, stirring, will call you
to the kitchen, though you will have already
begun to move, your hand slipping
off the knob, door left open, as you walk
into a burned oil haze awaiting
uncertain discovery. There will not yet
be a need to speak. When you place your final
footsteps a few feet from my back, I will
turn from the stove and smile.
Before our eyes meet, the rich debris
of vegetable skins and excess spice
lying carelessly upon discarded knives
may frighten you; you will have to stop
yourself from stooping down and picking
up the still steaming pan of potato hunks and
limpened leeks for fear that it will kiss my
whitish heel and burn it pink, but as I turn to you,
my face softer-seeming in the steam,
my eager smile will persuade you
to forget the danger in the debris. Without warning,
you will cast aside your coat, grab an apple
and, peeling vigorously,
cover the counter in a layer of tarnished
pink and green as you delight in the glory
of abandon. I will laugh, and pull out
the last clean pan to dirty with your newborn
recipe. The air that was full of embrace
will make room quickly for the music made by
your rhythmic chopping and my hand dropping
naked apples in a pan of garlic and electric oil.
We will compose a symphony of boiling
foil-bound fruit and figs wading in wine,
plucking plump grapes to suck just
for a snack and pausing only for the entre act
applause of caramelizing onions.
We will push the oven up to its maximum degree
and fan the fare of the electric company.
Sweating, we will strum umbilical pumpkin strings
and beat our beans. We will whip
cashews into chili chocolate mousse
and chill it as we blanch bitter greens.
We will leave our mouths open to laugh and taste
until we positively brim with insulin.
We will cook loud and merrily until, startled,
we will find our selves eye to eye, fist to fist,
the last clean spoon between us. Reluctantly
we will see in its reflection the counter heavy
with cooling pans, the blackened sticky stove,
our dirty hands. Whereupon we will decide
to do the dishes another day, set down
the silver survivor, and evacuate
our stage with reverence, leaving the kitchen
to settle quietly in the haze of our reverie.
I will pick up your cold coat from the floor
and hand it to you as we approach the open door.
Smile fading, you will place your hand
back on the knob and I
will hand you your coat. Awkwardly,
we will find ourselves, arms tangling,
chests pressing, necks craning in
bodily embrace. Shoulder startled
by the feeling of my face, you will
squeeze closed your eyes and, suddenly,
smell the same sweet earth air that
greeted you when you arrived.
You, comfortable, will linger.
Then, tightening your grip as you open
your eyes, you will find only
the gray hallway bathed in yellow street light.