(Second in a three part sequence)

by Michael Levan

He is tired of visits, tired of how the day repeats / itself like a record skipping in a locked groove. He breaks / the cycle, meets a friend for lunch. They talk about their program, what they’re working on, / every dull detail she’s not had energy to listen to. / Never a talker, he still sees he’s missed this sharing. / He’s missed knowing that he needs / not give anything he’s quickly running out of. /

 

                        When his friend asks after his wife, the man pauses, sighs, pulls / the latest sonogram pic he’s using as a bookmark, / reminder that each time he opens to a new chapter / he has one of his own to look forward to. / He slides it to his friend and explains the past / month of his life. His friend listens and offers congratulations, / to cover classes if she’s still sick next semester. The man is grateful / he has a friend so generous, so understanding. They finish / their meals and part, one more Cheers! shouted / across the near-empty square. The man heads to the hospital, /

 

                                                                                                and his friend carries this news home, heavy-hearted, / he and his wife six years married, four years / of failed tests they’ve comforted each other through, / each day grayer than the one before. / He imagines his friend’s wife / sleeps in, late, all-day when she can, / eying every baby bump with hope, / angered hope, and then desperate hope. / He sees his friend does what he can / to remind her their day will come. /

 

                                    But this is part of the story the man will not hear for a few more years, / guilt not yet forced into every memory of them he’s had. / This is part of the story that might explain that jealous look once, / their last-minute dinner party cancellations. This is part / of the story the man wishes he could take back. 

Also by Michael Levan:

1. Routine
3. The Rabbit Hole

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