Contented Rescue
by Tobi Alfier

Used to be somedays she’d speak to nobody,
inhabit her own silence as she walked through
the bitter ritual of a miserable day.
This was her town and she was a no-one.
Grew up with everybody’s opinions
still too raw—she’d be miles away
as she knotted wildflowers between fingers,
a Jacob’s Ladder of brightly-colored redemption,
but not for her. No mercy in the clear wind,
her back hunched up against the cold.

They fell in love unbelievably by mail,
two friends of other friends with nothing
else obvious or in common. Stoic man—
vocabulary the size of galaxies, wry, dimpled,
handsome. Shy woman—jumbled-up,
the weight of storm-tossed oceans upon her
shoulders, spoke food easier than feelings.
Life preservers they threw to each other,
and life preservers they clung to.

He sent her two pictures. She sent him one—
of her long, long hair but not her face.
He sent her poems typed. She sent him menus scribbled—
Blue Point Oysters on a bed of beach glass,
   baby lettuces with goat cheese,
      lambchops grilled with salt, pepper, and rosemary,
         corn grilled, asparagus roasted,
            vanilla panna cotta with apricot preserves for decadence,
               thinly sliced Halvah for squeak.

He wrote about a dream he had often, always in color.
Kind people he didn’t know in places unrecognizable.
He’d wake vaguely confused but deeply comforted.
She wrote I know that dream, come now.
Silk Degrees is on the stereo and I’m waiting.

He stood outside looking in through lace-curtained windows.
In his arms, a bottle of wine well researched, perfect for reunions
and the blossoming of friendships. Shyly they toasted—he loved
the ripple of her throat as she swallowed, as she met his eyes
and he saw them for the very first time. Then they danced.


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