I am an assistant professor at Chadron State College in northwest Nebraska where I teach writing and American literature. I received my PhD from Ohio University and my MFA from the University of Idaho. Despite another disappointing season, I am also a diehard Boston Red Sox fan.
How each day ends with silence.
Adam and Eve washing dishes, like us now. How she, like you,
wore size nine slippers. How he searched for words
to describe the way she scrubbed each spoon.
Tonight you’re reading National Geographic,
and I find myself, like Adam,
without a definition for this thirst.
In the bathroom you brush your hair,
stroke after stroke, and I search for a phrase
that goes beyond burning-chestnut-blond.
How Eve, like you, walked light as a ghost.
How each night she ate seven cherries on the couch.
How Adam climbed into bed unable to explain
the softness of her exhalations.
How I watch you sleep. How in this darkness I lean over you,
as he did her when words were young,
to watch your shoulder rise, now fall.
And from the time when history was small enough for two
Adam’s voice reaches me:
What is this, he asks. What is this, God?
Let’s be honest, it snowed every day. 8:07 a.m., and you scraping ice
from your windshield, that thankless circle you stared through all winter,
when the same flake touched your shoulder like a secret.
Each day you drove to work, wind from the west,
while she packed her lilac bathrobe and took The Collected Poems
of W. B. Yeats. That same sunset-purple Trans-Am passed you
on the inside lane, and when you finally sat at your desk,
walls the color of rain, you listened, always, to “Sloop John B.” Let me
go home, you sang, Let me go home. But each day
she took the bottle of late harvest Riesling, that framed photograph
of Elvis with lamb-chop sideburns, every fire-browned brick in the fireplace.
During break you ate a tuna fish sandwich and carrot sticks while she took
the black table lamp you bought together at Pier One.
5:32 p.m., and you driving through eight inches of snow singing
Hoist up the John B.’s sail, See how the main sail sets.
But each day the front door was gone from its frame,
the frame gone from your blue-shingled house. She had taken
that first date to Olive Garden, the Butter Pecan ice cream cone
you shared in Paragon Park. Let’s be honest, it was a blizzard,
even if no one else noticed. And each night you walked the yard searching
for the kitchen, for her rain-cloud colored sneakers in the hallway.
There was nothing. Just your voice lost in furious snow.
©2015 Steve Coughlin