In the botanicum
by Jesse Wolfe

Moonlight pools, as if delayed,
in the folds of the duvet,
her second husband sleeping, lips pursed,
as if rehearsing.

He spoke in his sleep
their first night together.
She marvels at how he remembers dreams.
Over coffee he’ll describe his sister
appearing at the Redondo house
near the shutters by the rose bed—

only she’s grown up, plump, fidgety,
as though a crafty editor spliced
the frightened thirty-five year old
into their calmer childhoods.

They met on the set of the Williams play.
By himself on the folding chair,
he whispered his lines over and over.
They performed in the botanicum,
as Williams would have liked.
After closing, he kept whispering,
fixing what hadn’t been right on stage.

She could memorize his face tonight
as she’s done with the dock in Morro Bay:
customers huddling in the dawn
as Bill trawled in his salmon,
a pelican on a pylon, awaiting fish innards
carved by an old Mexican
(that may have been somewhere else)
with a curved knife and plastic bucket.

These images fill her own what if decades:
if she’d never met Tony, moved east.
She could be at the waterfront coffee shop
near women she grew up with,
with a crossword, scanning for the thousandth time
the thin arm of sand stretched across the bay.


Copyright 2021 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.