Reading Sappho in Pensacola
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.