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John Schneider




Evenings, he downs one then the other

brandy Manhattan, swallowing the cherry


from her emptied cocktail glass. The spectral

ice cubes remind him how cold summer has become.


They clink together, then part, as he swirls

grief with his index finger and licks it clean.


As if he could spin straw into gold. As if

magic could bring her back. He used to open


both sides of the bedsheet. Tired of the flatness

beside him, he now chooses to sleep on the couch


on her pillow, parting the midnight curtains

to let in some shards of moon and streetlight.


Mornings, he shaves with her safety-razor, a reminder

of touch.  Sets out another plate before the empty chair.


When he was with her cold body at the scene, he peeled

her shredded cycling gloves from each stiff finger, one by


one, so as not to do more harm, steepling her hands

across her stilled chest. The mangled bike still remains


in his trunk. Her plastic beaded bracelet still hangs

from the rearview. But tonight, as he returns to


the scene alone again, all that black macadam

emptying in her honor, he stretches the gloves


over his own hardened hands and clenches

the wheel like a rosary. Time stops. Returned


to the house that has lost its home, he removes

her crumpled clothes from the hamper,

sniffing each piece, reluctantly washing


her from them, drying, smoothing their

wrinkles, holding each up to the faint


lights exhaling through the unopened window.

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