Read­ing Sap­pho in Pen­sacola

New England Review - - Table of Contents - Jehanne Dubrow

When you re­mem­ber that sum­mer, you see the sweat­ing hours—

how your fin­gers left

damp dim­ples in the pages as if even read­ing pro­duced too much heat in the body; and the open mini-bar

of your ho­tel room of­fered the only breeze when you reached in for an­other bot­tle.

It was al­ways the af­ter­noon that re­turned

your hus­band to the door— hold­ing a map or a brochure,

some ad­ven­ture to re­pair the frag­ments of the day, a drive to the beach, past titty-joints and pawn­shops,

or if weather be­trayed, a new book.

In Pen­sacola, noth­ing he brought made up for the morn­ing,

his ab­sence like the space

a trans­la­tor leaves when only parts of the poem re­main.

Look­ing back on that July, you can still re­cite a thin flame runs un­der my skin, still feel the wet wash­cloth laid

on your belly, any­thing to keep cool

while you waited Some­times, al­though you hated

that sun­burned strip of Florida, watch­ing the gray geckos as­cend the bath­room wall, you could still be con­vinced to go back;

when he found you on the bed—

my tongue is bro­ken, you would say be­fore prov­ing your­self

a liar, not much bro­ken then but the ceil­ing fan which spun un­steady cir­cles, while the two of you slept, barely

wrapped in sheets the drift­ing color of sand.

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