Coffee and Oranges

The music on TV turned gloomy. Sharks,
she said, and sure enough. A blunt snout,
jumbled cemetery of teeth, and quick black
depthless eye thrashed the screen. Coffee
and oranges made the morning acidic.
She said, the cello is the instrument
of the inevitable. White clouds
of jasmine devoured a trellis. He said,
no, the cello is an instrument of caution.
And with that they splashed overboard into
the swells and chop and chum and his lust
for control took dominion everywhere,
like a shark, like he fucked, always either
much too much or nothing at all. He said
he'd make her a deal. If she could face
the mirror a hundred mornings straight and
say out loud she wanted one and mean it
she could have a child. That wasn't bad
enough. Six days later he came off in her
without a condom. And wanted to hug
and cry about it. Brought a warm washcloth.
Said she'd misunderstood. Was this
fate or warning? Punishment or praise?
She didn't even ask; she understood
he didn't understand the difference.
She idled in the Rite Aid parking lot,
adding the omen of the stiff kitten
near the dumpster to the omen of the goth girl
flashing past on her skateboard with a bright
pink bubble perched in her mouth. Called it
a draw. Tore up the prescription and drove
home to coffee, oranges, the inevitable
cello. A hundred mornings and no telling
on which the shark will or won't rip
her open, turn the bitter pith and grounds
of her insides out. The music might warn her
but the shark never will. She's gone. She's here.

"Coffee and Oranges" from And So © by Joel Brouwer, 2009. Reprinted with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.