I sit in Morna's car for a while smoking a cigarette
and shaking. Morna is talking too much.
Later we will be strangers again, but tonight
we need each other. Mrs. Nakamura
is making pot roast, the house smells like
a grandmother when we come in.
There is a Japanese paper lamp
in one corner and the clock on the mantel
says it's quarter past eight. During dinner
our dishes clink in dissonance and we clear
our throats at regular intervals. There is apple pie
for dessert with little dabs of vanilla ice cream.
Mrs. Nakamura asks questions and we
feign interest in our own lives.
                                                      The tears
will come later, at home, the way a child's
scraped knee becomes real the moment she sees
her mother's face. For now, I am not thinking of
the burned clock from Hiroshima,
stopped on the mantel behind me.

(March 15, 2003)

© Katherine Maheux, 2003.