When you took me out to lunch that day
and we saw that man kamasutra that lady
with his eyes, lean in, smile ever
so slightly and say in a hushed tone,
pass me the honey, honey,
what you were up to when you put
your hand on mine and said, pass me
the sugar, sugar.
I did, though I’d never
seen you put sugar in your tea before.
Maybe this was a new thing. Maybe
you were like the boy who planted
carrot seeds to see if they would grow.
They didn’t come up. And they didn’t
come up. Until one day they did.
Problem with me is, I have the opposite
of a green thumb, unless by green
you mean sick and infected, so when
you said that sweet thing, plopping
a spoonful of sugar into your tea,
I didn’t know what to expect. You reap
what you sow, but I didn’t know
if this seed would reap now of the spirit
or the flesh. Truth be told, both felt
shriveled, worn. Then you were gone,
disappeared the way love does sometimes
by hanging on to what it thought it was.
Meanwhile that couple ate under
a canopy of grapes overlooking a garden
so vast it could have been a luxury
rehab center with a horticultural therapist
who pushes a cart filled with bright green
foliage across the lawn to a group of men
and women in wheelchairs waiting
with rubber bands to wrap the stalks,
arrange them in glass vases they fill in
with stone. Back and forth, crooked hands
reach in and out of vases in a hypnotic
interspecies connection between patient
and vegetation that makes the bent spine
of each seem to lengthen. So unlike
the repetition of minutes that fold
into minutes in a routine that shrinks
and rearranges the shape of your dreams until
you realize the only thing you care about anymore
is when the day will end. Then the day ends.
But not before the doctor calls and says
you’ve got to come in for more testing,
don’t worry, but don’t leave town and
can you be here tomorrow morning
at eight, I have to tell you something.
Somehow, the days keep ending. Except
now you notice how the sunlight cradles
the evening, eases it like a baby into
its honey-red rest so tenderly it makes you
weep. Then morning rises like dew
radiating from the heat inside of you.
You walk the slow mile down the road
to the restaurant where no one touches
your arm, no one says anything.
There is no canopy. You sit with the light
overlooking the end of the season, the last
few stragglers of crop a past luster
wanting to be picked, but hanging on.
Sophia Galifianakis teaches at the University of Michigan, where she received her MFA in poetry. Her poems have appeared in Plume, Western Humanities Review, Arts & Letters, The Greensboro Review, World Literature Today online, and other journals.