One peculiarity is that it took him longer
to finish his cigarette: December

on the front stoop, first winter in the new city.
She’d stub her smoke

on the banister, and standing behind him
press the center of her forehead

against the center of his back
while she waited for him to finish. Like most couples

who fight they’d begun to say, this is healthy.
They said, I love you. He said, insistently,

I love you. She said, exhausted, reminding him
again, I love you, as if it were a memory.

This is how it went: her head against his back,
the cigarette’s end

glowing and dimming
like a breath, his shape reflected in the parked car’s

frozen window. From behind him her voice said,
look, this is you, then stepping out

from his flank, this is me, her face appearing
in the glass beside his own.


Grady Chambers