Pat Phillips West

Back when the house was first ours,

we went in and out ten twenty times,

lugging the TV, chairs and a table

from the second-hand store

we painted sunflower-yellow.

The first time we moved

the handed down sofa-bed

that weighed as much as a hippo,

it got stuck in the doorway,

you in the living room,

me on the other end in the hall.

A puzzle wedged between us. Nothing,

not geometry or physics

or turning it on end, worked. Then,

you pushed one more time

and the thing slid right through.

I still don’t know how you did that

or why in the beginning

the house had a damp scent

like earth under the shade

of a weeping willow.

We’d come in the door

and there it was,

stubborn as loneliness,

or the memory of loneliness,

that strangely balmy spring

when life seemed long.

Now, decades later, I stand here

staring into my refrigerator

as if this is the place

answers are stored,

the ones telling me how things work

or what comes next. It was long after

your death, before I realized

I’d never asked what you thought

the first time you saw me.

You often teased about that night,

but did you ever seriously admit

what went through your mind

when the waitress said,

Someone wants to meet you.

Or whatever line she used,

I’m not sure.

I do know, when she inquired,

Can I get you anything else?

I nodded toward a man

who’d just entered the coffee shop

and told her she could bring him over,

never imagining she’d act

on such a flippant remark.

Why didn’t we think to invite

that crazy-ass waitress to the wedding?

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Pat Phillips West’s poems have been published in various journals including Haunted Waters Press, Clover, a Literary Rag, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere. She is a former Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee.

Abby Michelini