On Refraction

by John A. Nieves

It’s a Wednesday like one of those
             when we used to call the windows
                          strangleglass because they choked

the light to drizzle-gray. And yes, I’m in
             a different bed that feels like the same
                          bed. And yes, I still see your fingers

sift your hair, slight as smoke, your cheek
             only a glint on the pillow. I know you
                          never know the last time you do anything.

I know I could be typing one of these
             words never again. And like this morning,
                          like that morning, I can taste the leaving, that

                          everyday velar souring that made me want
             to rinse my mouth when I heard
your keys lullaby the lock, when the car

                          door clapped, when the engine opened
             like an eddy in quick crossing currents.
Today, I put my hand on my partner’s

                          shoulder and drink her easy warmth. Later,
             she will not call to say the next thing snuck
up on her. She will not give me an address

                          and ask for any sending. And while you both
             say nothing in the storm-light, I know
they don’t mean the same.

Published on October 29, 2020