Celia Meade


—after Yusef Komunyakaa


I heard they caught Rose and him
naked in the back room,
almost doing it
but hadn’t got there yet.
The cork of a bottle popped
honeyed wine spilt into glasses.

I overheard the girls
as they whispered in the kitchen
I stood in the hallway: waxen, sexless.
Book club was winding down.
Half a chocolate cake
stood like an irrefutable fact.

A swelling bloomed in my throat.
My man had gone to that party without me.
I made myself enter the kitchen
stiff, as if made of straw.
That’s not the Rose I know, I said,
family is all she talks about.

But the Rose I know
has a wide red mouth
that’s always hungry for something
and her hair falls like petals
on both sides of her cheekbones
and she smells like a fresh-cut bouquet.

When I went to work on Monday
there they were, behind the building.
Rose looked away, wet-faced and
drooping, her thin arms swaying.
My man wrenched his hair before he
flew off down the alley.

I felt stung, slapped,
my hand rose to my hot, dry cheek.
The whole town would be buzzing.
I stepped back from the window.
Finally, Rose showed up.
I’m having the worst day, she said.

Later, I saw her husband, hovering
in the grocery aisle.
He looked down
as if confused by the cereal boxes
and the buzzing in my ears grew
louder and louder.

I rose up over the aisles
over the grocery store
over the drone of the town
the air felt cold and thin
and all the white grubby boxes
spread out below me.

Without anyone
I flew out to green fields
full of three-leaf clover
where I gathered some peace
from the pale, common flowers
at home among the unlucky.