Saturday, September 25, 2010

change is always possible

By Claudia Ricci

Change is always possible.
She says that to him one night
at dinner.
He looks up from the puddle of
thick yellow polenta on his plate.
He blinks.
Sure it is, he mumbles.

She brings her goblet of red wine
to her lips
in her two hands.
Steadying her eyes on his,
she sips.
The air around them on this warm fall evening
turns warmer.
The leaves in the lowering sunlight turn more orange and
more golden and
more crimson.
Almost as if the sun has gotten closer
and brought everything into
a brighter focus.

Oh but I mean it this time, she says.
She nods a little as if to make her words
Stand out as sharply as the leaves against the powder blue sky.
He scoops more polenta onto his plate,
and adds a dash of the tomato sauce.
For a while he busies himself
bringing the spoon back and forth to his mouth.

I wonder sometimes, he says,
mashing the polenta
--she can picture it on his tongue--
When did we stop being nice to each other?
He swallows
and she tips her head back and drinks
more wine.
He swallows.
And why? I mean, sometimes I just want to
know why?

She shrugs. Her eyelids lower.
I used to wonder that too, she whispers.
She hasn't touched the round splatter of
polenta staring up at her
from the plate.
Polenta as sunny as that

Noon day in August not so many years past
when she stood beside the straw
laundry basket gazing at the socks
and the wadded sheets and the
T shirts with the V necks and
the mud spots
still in them.

She bent over to the wet clothes
and lifted a T shirt to the line
and pinned it there
just like every other morning.
But that day, she stood
just watching
it flapping
in the back yard
in the steady hot breeze.

She knew that day in a new way
a hard fact:
life can be a study
in unhappiness
where change is always
possible but as unlikely
as it is
absolutely necessary.

She inhales now. She gets up
and crosses the room,
her bare feet slapping against
the flip flops she should have
stopped wearing years ago.
She searches a kitchen cabinet
until she finds the cigarettes.
She returns to the table.
Bends one knee. And sits on her foot.

She lights one of the cigarettes
and promises herself it will be
the only one she smokes before
she smokes the next one.
On her plate the
stares back at her.

I'll do up the dishes, he says,
standing, reaching toward her plate,
that is,
if you're done.

She gazes up at him
and blinks, and
ponders the words
he just said,
and wonders.

No comments: