Poetry Left by the Back Door

We planned games. Invited friends.
Poured her a drink. Bubbles and ice.
One thin twist of a lemon rind.
The glass sweated.
We waited.
Who saw her last? She had worn a blue dress
loose at the neck.
No, no, a suit.
Hair in a braid or a pillbox hat.
Weren’t her curls red
spilling down her back?
The dice lay naked, staring up at lanterns.
Six. Two.
An hourglass with its sands
Asleep for the night.
We did not think to play without her.
What had she meant by excusing herself?
Talk of her absence crusted our lips.
In silence we ate
from the small plate of oiled beans she had brought,
Twisting tongues around mealy bellies.
They brought tears to our eyes.
We spit them into napkins
And poured sugar down our throats
Then drifted to our private quarters
In pairs
Alone.
Someone emptied her glass
Into the sink and washed
Clean the last trace
Before setting it in the cupboard
To complete the even row.

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