Memory of One Day in a Kitchen

It wasn’t complete,
              only two hours
                            I spent with you,
the light coy until evening—
              my rapid blinking,
                            the way a girl did
once in a movie
              unworthy of the ticket’s price.
                            I felt so beautiful—
but then I called my mother
              and she made a noise when
                            I said I could love you.
She was remembering
                            what she was wearing,
what he was wearing,
              each word they said,
                            what everything meant
or would come to mean.
              In her alternate dreams, they
                            hadn’t married. She’d
taken the fellowship,
              studied overseas
                            in France—
but don’t get her wrong,
              she’s not bitter.
                            In fact, she’s perfectly fine.
She didn’t understand
              that I knew different:
                            I’m one of the few,
good moments
              she shared with that pretty,
                            redbone man.
She was thinking blue dress
              and tweed jacket
                            and 1958
when I said we sat at the table,
              speaking in hesitations.
                            Before we kissed
you took off your glasses,
              closed your eyes
                            while describing a moment
you wanted me to see.
              What if I’d reported my insanity to her?
                            That I’d bought condoms
for you.
              I was wearing new panties.
                             I’d shaved the tenderness
between my thighs,
              but after you kissed me,
                             that was it.
You left—
              I sat there,
                             the cork in the wine
bottle mocking
              me with its wistful,
                             funky smell.
It was a day of separation:
              the time before,
                             when a woman wouldn’t
look for signs.
              The time after,
                             when a woman
could lose her mind,
              believe a note buried
                             in a man’s laughter,
no matter what she says:
                             I’m through
with that sorry story.
              I’m way past all of that

From The Glory Gets (Wesleyan University Press, 2015) by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Copyright © 2015 by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Used with the permission of the author.