by Judith Sanders
We clustered in the hotel lobby,
dim under distant chandeliers.
Friends I hadn’t seen in years.
Some were babies again
tended by brazen mothers
who rolled their diapers into balls.
We sang the evening prayers
with our eyes closed.
Everyone swayed, even the skeptics.
How good it is to know the words by heart.
Then the wall clock bong-bong-bonged.
The widower and I drove off.
Rocks jutted among gullies.
You’ll like it here, I promised.
He brooded as the roadway
unspooled in the headlights.
Was he recalling her quicksilver gestures
while I, plump and tingling, waited?
The lady lawyers invited me to dine
on beans aux fines herbes. But I had fled
to another house.
Down the corridor of blackened particleboard.
The family milled and murmured in Spanish.
The dark-haired girl put down the baby
and led me in a slow tango.
You’ll come back and see me, she whispered,
her eyes black wine.
I could still feel the press of her hips
as she melted into the crowded shadows.
Then I spotted him, my lost love,
loping through the parking lot,
his ponytail swinging like a noose.
I piloted my white convertible beside him
but could not attract his attention.
At the asphalt’s crumpled edge,
through the jittery willow fronds,
he was fleeing his own demon.
At last we arrived at the turquoise bazaar.
Racks of gauzy skirts and scarves,
all in that lovely Caribbean blue.
We sat in the same armchair
and talked sweetly of bygone days.
But his massive jaw, stubbled like a bandit’s,
intruded into the conversation.
My dear husband sat in a booth of glass and iron.
He lifted the pass-through to sell me a ticket
and a shot of Island rum.
But I had left something on the back burner.
I ran and lifted the pot’s charred dome.
From the lump beneath, white as an animal brain,
Ach, too late, again
Judith Sanders’ work has appeared in journals such as The American Scholar, Light, The Poet, and Calyx, and on the websites Vox Populi and Full Grown People. Her poems won the Hart Crane and Wergle Flomp Humor prizes. She taught English at universities and independent schools, and in France on a Fulbright Fellowship. She lives in Pittsburgh.