Curating my nightstand knicknacks, I unpack
a Nicaraguan cigar box of oddities - a golden ring,
Tinkerbell pin, nickels unpocketed, my high school girlfriend.
I unroll her, still unwrinkled after the years,
just her edges want to curl like a slight smile. I kiss
her cheek; ask how she stays happy in such a tight spot.
She blows an imaginary smoke ring. We never lit up,
but I remember once on a plane from Paris
she’d uncrossed her smooth legs, leaned close, with a hand
on my knee, to say she’d feel cooler with a cigarette.
I ask her now to tell me of surprise and regret. Like what
does she hear me stutter in my sleep? Pursuit,
she says, circling two fingers, shaking her head. Pursuit.
Nodding and pursing my lips, I close the lid.
Tulips trees spin in the wind, drop branches in my yard while
their trunks sway the same way, every day, and I don’t really want
them to change. Sometimes, I burn the ends of their thin sticks,
enjoying the taste, remembering campfire nights,
hide and seek in spring thickets. Those woods, untying their hair,
blossoming, someone always chasing me.
Matthew Miller teaches social studies, swings tennis rackets, and writes poetry - all hoping to create home. He and his wife live beside a dilapidating orchard in Indiana, where he tries to shape dead trees into playhouses for his four boys. His poetry has been featured in Whale Road Review, River Mouth Review, Club Plum Journal and Ekstasis Magazine. Twitter: @mattleemiller32