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?