Three days after someone unhooked the dog leash,
I drink dirty martinis in a sticky booth at Stone Pepper’s Grill.
I almost spill the first one,
icy gin startling my fingers as I raise the glass.
Later, I cross the street at dusk, drawn into the white light of Trader Joe’s,
a place Elaine might well have been, pushing a cart alongside me,
were she not busy wearing an ugly turtleneck,
pilled and pulled high,
a look she would have never chosen for herself.
She would, however, have made a fine meal
of soft Naan, yellow and orange heirloom tomatoes,
black avocados yielding to the slightest pressure from her thumb.
She would have arranged the food on party plates,
royal-emerald-ruby blotches against a white tablecloth,
the dishes a joie de vivre I craved soon after we met.
Drawn to the piles of eggplant, I stop in Produce,
the skins taut to bursting, disturbingly dark and glossy.
An Italian eggplant, white steaks distressing the purple,
causes me to think about Elaine’s pale skin,
the loop of the leash, her dear sorrowful neck,
the raging fuck-you of her leap.
At the counter, the tropical-shirted cashier welcomes me,
heartily inquiring after my wellbeing, cheerfully commenting on
the contents of my cart. I turn a banshee before his eyes,
but he knows the customer is always right and looks politely away.
All that’s left to do now is to make a reasonable purchase,
a tribute of golden plums, red peppers and a basket of thin green beans.
I close my eyes as he packs these bright signs of life,
each color disappearing into the depth
of the handled brown bag.