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Spaghetti Dinner

-by Mark Wilhelm

It was October

I smelled the change in the air

When I answered the front door

‘Smell that?’ she asked,

tossing aside her cigarette,

inhaling the Autumn air deeply.

‘Yeah,’ I said quietly, ‘it’s great, isn’t it.’

As we walked into the kitchen

The smell of pasta replaced that of autumnal death

‘Smells good in here, too’ she said

and I, caught in the scented trailer

of the wake of her perfume, agreed.

Lori jump-sat onto the kitchen counter, her

Legs dangling, not reaching the floor, her

Hair falling behind, not reaching her

Shoulders. She lit another smoke and asked,

‘Need any help?’ Her exhaled smoke

became a visible consonant in the air

as her tongue touching her teeth

to pronounce the letter ‘n’ blocked its flow.

‘No’, I answered, lighting my own

watching as our smoke rose and danced together

in the steam above the pot on the stove.

The stream fogged the kitchen window

Lori drew there in pale deft finger

A blossom whose outline was clarity

Whose substance was clouded moisture

Then she erased it,

Wrote the words ‘spaghetti steam,’ and laughed/

I sighed the smoke from my lungs,

I had always tried to own that laughter.

Lori opened the window a notch

And the air came in

Chasing the smoke and steam

Wiping away on the window

Not the words, but the condensation that defined them.

Fresh air vied with the smell of spaghetti

For the odor of the room,

Copyright©2000 Carrie Michael