When I Remember

this is what I remember:
his rare smile, those perfect
canine teeth,

almost blue in the dark
above me.
You have no idea

he told me that night
with his teeth.
Everyone smiles,
but not like that.

He was so good looking,
I used to watch him sleeping.
What else can I say?
I found myself singing along
to all the bad pop songs on the radio.

That was the winter
it snowed and snowed.
At night we drove around,
mouthing the words,
alone in our dream city.
I came to know
he was fearless about the weather,
would drive in anything.

I paid close attention to these things.
I tried to remember
every sentence he spoke,
each cotton shirt in his closet,
all of the food on his shelf.
The night we danced 
through his kitchen
around and around,
dizzy in our happiness.

His apartment was the only place
I felt peaceful; it had good light
and a pretty view of the chapel.
Pendleton blankets and books.
He didn't have a television.
On the weekends
he faithfully made me breakfast.
Remember this, I pleaded:
his thick wool socks,
the eggs and the toast,
the hardwood floors,
the albums he gave me.

On the cover of one,
an abandoned farmhouse
standing in a wheat field,
ruined by rain. On another,
withered flowers,
rotting in a vase
filled with dirty water.
The last one: a thickly framed mirror,
blank against dark floral wallpaper.

I listened to each of them repeatedly;
I laid awake trying to figure it out.
Who is this person
I am sleeping next to?
I wondered.

He was all I thought of really,
and at night I practiced my remembering:
the texture of his sheets,
the amber color of his eyes
almost yellow at the center
near his pupils.
The joke he made that morning
about a dominatrix and the moon.
And those teeth.

This was when my love for him
started to seem luckless. He asked so little
of me, but what he did ask
felt impossible.
Try to be happy, and smile more.
Don't be so reticent. Don't be so
dogmatic. Sleep with the lights off. 
Eat all the foods on your plate.

Remember what it's like
to love him.

Well I had requirements too, you know.
Unflinching obedience.
until death.

Remember that it is possible
to feel this way.

But I didn't remember.
I forgot, nearly everything.

When all other memories of him 
had dissolved,
clean off the bone,
this is what remained:

his teeth.
The wolf smile.
Years later, still promising
to eat me whole.

8 thoughts on “When I Remember

  1. Very nice. I’m unsure I’ll go back to getting published, but you definitely should. Try Googling (or Bing, whatever) writer’s newsletter or writer’s service newsletter; it has lots of current contests and even free advice (I’m not advertising their paid services as good or bad,)

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