by Nicole Callihan

Nicole Callihan

When Will was lost at sea, or mostly lost, 
all but one shard of bone, and the day 
after we’d smoked so many cigarettes 
at that table with the flowers and the view, 
the peppercorns I’d find for months, 
the complicated dishes and shiny knives, 
his wife out east, his daughter, and him 
holding court, the swirl of wine, its legs, 
and how for months I tried to write it, 
then years, then the summer in Prague 
when I thought I’d seen him, how I 
followed him down the alley, me, a woman, 
and the evening already dark, and the man 
who turned to me, and I said, in English, 
I’m sorry, I mistook you for someone, 
someone gone, and in Czech he scolded me, 
probably something about being a woman, 
it being night, about danger, whore, 
stupid, stupid, and me just repeating I’m sorry. 
What did I do next? Treated myself 
to a quarter of a duck and stewed plums, 
many dark beers. So many years.? And 
what might we eat if those who died 
came to dine with us? After Valentina, 
I remember, she visited my dream, 
and we sat at a different table. Was it tea? 
I think we had tea. And Jim, we sometimes 
feast in open air. A carafe of water. Lemons. 
Here, today, alone, I pick at chopped cabbage, 
hazelnuts from Tupperware, my paper towel 
halved, the heat pump broken. Mid-February, 
and all my companions wear snowflakes 
in their hair. O air. What once was here— 
sunlight through the west window, 
the spoons clanging against the crockery.

Last updated November 23, 2022