Lori waited at the kitchen table.
Steam rose from her oatmeal.
Her cat brushed up against her leg.
Then the other leg.

She waited for a man before eating.
He was the twentieth man in twenty-five days.
He knew not of this count.

What started as the loose excitement of revenge
tightened as a noose when the bottom fell out.

Mouths and thighs did not equal paradise.

The mirror was not Lori’s friend this morning.

He arrived at the table with sleep in his eyes.
And a reddish smear on his cheek.
He looked down and grasped the empty coffee cup.

This tomorrow did not exist last night.

The morning light exposed their age more accurately—
the accumulated wreckage of time.
Lori was especially aware of his crows feet
as if crows were already picking at something dead.

He sat eyes down, cup to face but not drinking.
Lori dug a spoon past the thin glaze of syrup
and into her oatmeal.

It was awkward only in the way silence is awkward.

He set the empty cup down and got up.
He shut the front door behind him
and navigated the prickly pear straight to his car.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Low Frequency

Some people who grow up never feeling loved
remain in motion afraid to stop.

While others turn into stone
unable to take the first step of any journey.

Paul walked into a church, lit a candle
and sought refuge from his loneliness.

It was not the image of Christ on the cross
or the story of salvation that he treasured.

It was the shadow of the cross
in the wavering candle light against the wall

and how in this heavy solitude no one asked him
for something he did not have to give.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney