There is a Year of Telling Now
by stephanie roberts
Sipping Carmenère, in a corner booth, at a square walnut table,
in Washington Heights, waiting for a basket of fried calamari,
I imagine your steady and bright-hearted listening. A stream
of lemon and lime cabs swim like cutthroats across the bistro’s
picture window, where only this small red journal is company
to a, now, saturate in an invisible fog of intense stillness, that only
an inveterate sensualist would enjoy. You could taste this.
At the bar, an elderly Jew wearing a pork pie is an acquaintance
of the bartender’s. He’s upset about nothing or everything;
it’s hard to tell; New Yorkers have a constant siege mentality
that predates disaster; it makes for a bold yet tender habit;
we’ve had to be tougher than is reasonable—always down
to fuck or run. You would want to know.
Baby, can you help me get this down these stairs?
I take the elderly black woman’s
wheeled cart and ascend the subway
flight, just as strangers, always young
black men, had carried my suitcases
asking nothing of me for the kindness.
Against the wall, under a photo of 70s Bob Dylan, a lone patron
performs a sales-pitch soliloquy into the wireless device turned
from view. Overhead, K.C. and the Sunshine Band rock their thing
and a memory of our last New Year’s Eve deja vus through my hips.
The mind cha cha chas to clinks of crystal, brimming with amber,
against toothy laughter. At the end of this rainbow tone
of remembrance, you would sit enigmatic. But, I am wise
to the silent sparkle of your mind and the childlike flutter of eager
devilling your hands. A fit flits down to your elbows spilling
the secrets of your pleasure. You don’t drink wine, and love
is on the list of available sacrifices for a greater heaven. Absent,
I carry the burden of you, as stranger, down the flight to your reward.
stephanie roberts was born in Central America, grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and now abides in a wee town in Québec, Canada. A 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee and Silver Needle Press Poetry Contest winner, her work has been featured in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Arcturus, Atlanta Review, Verse Daily, The Stockholm Review of Literature, L’Éphémère Review, Occulum, and FLAPPERHOUSE. Twitter shenanigans @ringtales