Creole

You said, you look nice

I had been sitting at your kitchen table
so much like ones two generations past
cutting onions, then celery, then
red bell peppers, then parsley
the scent of each a cloud around me
putting them in the pot, adding
tomatoes and spices
starting the rice, sipping wine with you
at the end, putting in the shrimp
bringing the bowl of Creole to you
at your table, candles and music

And you look at me, radiance
streaming from your face
so immensely beautiful and strong
and vulnerable and afraid to meet my eyes
and tell me that I look nice

These moments when all else falls away
and we are just present
your hand in mine, fingers curled
around the others, pulling slightly
and I have to ask you to unpack
what it means that I look nice
but of course I already know
I just want to hold your voice in that moment
our language a creole,
both body and heart
languages mixed in one
sometimes even
with common vocabulary

Later I wake predawn, sobbing
from a dream of loss
not knowing really, but something old
passing through me, throat constricted
stomach drawn up
you move in your sleep and place
your arm across me, tears streaming
into my ears, your slow
sleep breathing in my ear.
The room gets light, birds singing
your face, differently radiant
in the dawn light
whatever passed through is gone
and now there is the day, our work
and the unforgotten feel
of your fingers in mine
the wood of your table against my wrist

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