you weren’t there the night we danced on the table in the apartment you shared with the girls, but we spent a day in that same swept room, cooking salmon in artichokes and oil. i forgot an umbrella; it failed to rain. sometimes, with you abroad in cairo, i cannot place the same sun casting its diverse mistimed shadows over us both. i imagine the windows there quiet and glazed in an earthy pollen. they’re cranked open even though it’s february. you’re standing behind an old lace curtain, turned away, hair in a thick braid down your back. your older sister is in the states, touching your hand through the other side of a mirror, and you’re both smiling as though things like this happen with regularity.
i promise i won’t ask for another drink if you’ll tell chris not to pour the next one strong. earlier i was outside under a street sign and the moon jerked in the sky like a fat grapefruit suspended by a guitar string. i opened my eyes to a blur of light and my hair stood on end. these are the days you clean up after by shattering empty bottles. sometimes, you curse the local for the express and wish you never left. sometimes, you fail to throw the key far enough and it bounces on the sidewalk instead of shimmering into the river. i forget his name. i should’ve left him on a subway platform. the restaurant was orange. he was drunker than anyone. let me emphasize something here, which is that i kissed him once in front of the map and that was it. for weeks my face burned at the thought of his teeth, the place on the carpet where he had lain. my nostrils flared at the doorway’s narrowness, how loud the tick of the kitchen clock could sound from one room away.
what i always wanted was the reassurance that someone else understood how much we would never understand of each other—and i knew when i reached the bottom of every green bottle that you were it. two buds ablossom, side by side, with eyes each open to the same sun. the problem was not in the blooming, it was that the stems’ cut bottoms were slowly sucking water from a dusty vase in a room without music.