At 6:30, a cup of coffee with cream and hints of sugar. Let my tongue float on the muddy brown with eyes closed, slipping into consciousness. Safety lives inside this paper cup. Comraderie, comfort, security. All the heft of a single day balanced against my lips. And with a slight tilt of the wrist, spills back into the throat, and sails through circulatory seas to those far-off synapses who fire a cheer of welcome. Too many miles until sleep. Because. We accept this.
I’m exhausted. Exhilarated? An ‘e’ word. Though ‘e’ is far to common a letter to be lovable. Find me a ‘q’. A ‘j’. The quiet ways they jostle against the palate. The alveolar ridge. Burbling over the tongue in clumsy tumbles. The way words ought to more often. In jigs across the larynx.
Ours was a grand and glorious love affair. The fabric of clichés — the pattern from which clichés became threadbare. It began with a toe. Or maybe it ended with a toe. Somewhere in the affair was the incident of the toe in the night. And if you have never heard the phrase Our love is deeper than the cut that severs a toe, perhaps you have never known how exquisitely inexplicable these compulsions of devotion are.
I can see the TV again, flickering darkly. He has stepped out onto his patio for a cigarette. The ash end flares orange into the midnight parking lot. He must see the little lamp in the window of my office nook and the shape of my head, but I don’t think he can tell I am looking at him. Truthfully, I’m not certain that he is looking up at me. So perhaps we have been staring at each other curiously unconscious of self. Never acknowledging with wave or nod the seconds that we shared in silence. Never betraying awareness of the other’s presence. But maybe he, like me, gloats over a few stolen glimmers of a human across the pre-autumn evening.