by Nikola Champlin

My fingers, which should be familiar, belonged to another woman.

The splinter

melted the plastic, blackened the wood

a coin-sized scorch — an absence.

I thought the plastic was green-checkered,

but it was the one with roses.

Rain fell this morning, in the garden,

and the leaves were dry under the sheltering oak.

You knelt in the garden, with busy hands. That was the color of your hair

that fragile orange —

I light fires in the evening,

balling newspaper behind the grate,

and the crisp snap is quieter than the silence —

quiet, quiet rain

revisiting the garden.

I pressed my hands over the roses, fingers splayed.

You told me I could press out your image too,

hands on my temples, pressing.

When rain and newspaper and pressing

did not work,

I slid open the box again.