ribs. we were eating ribs in a place
that smelled of wood smoke and
vinegar, with bottles on the walls
that had labels like "hotter than
hell sauce." and i was trying to
be dainty, but they were so good.
i liked the potato salad. you had slaw,
i think. it doesn't matter.

and then we walked into the outdoors.
i remember looking at tents and wondering
if i'd ever go camping again. we crossed
streams, together and apart. one of the
best pictures in my memory is of you standing
at the counter, leaning over and looking at
the bright, shiny, sharp things.

did it cross my mind then how much my joy
was like a knife? how it cut away the fear,
but left pain in its place? probably not. i
had more to learn of fear and pain before
everything was over.

you gave me a funny blue pill and took one
yourself and we went back and played games
with each other's bodies until you fell asleep.
dark. quiet. your eyes closed, your mind turned
to dreams of your future. i covered you because
i was cold and every time we were together, i
was screaming inside because the time would go
so fast. there was never enough time.

"don't talk of it. it makes you sad. it makes me sad."

so we didn't talk about it. i put on my night gown and
robe and walked you to your car, "you know i have
to go now." but i wanted those ribs. i didn't want you
to take away the memory of what that day had been
in a white Styrofoam box, to be reheated the next
day. you would not have bitten into them and felt the
texture of my skin on your lips, as i did yours.

i ate them cold, with memories to wash them down.
and i never saw you again. it was if i'd made you
disappear with my very hunger for you.

now, sometimes as i sit and type, i smell wood smoke
and try to remember the color of your eyes.


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