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   i r i s’    p a i n t e r    h e a r s    t h e    r a i n    m u s i c    r e t u r n    (o f f    b r o a d w a y)

--- J E F F R E Y   E T H A N   L E E

clutching pen and pad in the soaking thundershower Mick taps the tinted limo glass

she’s across the street now sorry she wanted this autograph

while behind black glass the star says Go and Mick spins fender-swiped loses his balance

crashes catching his knee his arm then his face splashes asphalt

she runs across the semi-darkness arms rising to her face in shock until she cradles

his head his face in blue-white light lips swelling gritty eyes unfocused

he lurches up she takes his weight becomes his crutch

they stagger as one on three legs his right shoe fills with dark red

he’d meant to show her what he’d still do for her traffic splatters by

despite her stupid marriage her bittersweet life even her kids

I’m sorry,” she says a red light casts its crimson tint

he wants to say he’s okay his lips don’t work

her umbrella’s gone dropped or washed away? she looks down

sees his pant leg darkening blood sloshing out his shoe

she leans him against a drugstore’s corrugated steel face

her eyes full of awe he mangles the question,

“Broken glass?” “You didn’t have to—

freed by the cold pain in his lips his knee

his eyes gaze into hers and hers hold him mesmerized

by what he means and her voice can’t open

her mouth trembles and he knows

white rain through streetlight roars a perfect excuse

to finally put her lips by his ear “I’m sorry—

he hears what she’s never said he tries so hard to hear

that a silence blooms between her face and his

even the gutters go quietly “I never told you...

I would—” He wakes up utterly

despite his draining blood his lips shiver but ask

Would you, still?” it’s unbearable to think

what she might say or not equally unbearable to not hear

then she can’t hold it back sinks her face in his neck

lips tremulous sobs opening her mouth arms hugging too hard

and it is hopeless and he knows it her breathing desperate

but it is a pure despair that answers, “Always... always.

If only we could be—

and her breaking goes straight through him a wave he can’t stop drowning in

they have one soul but they’re submerged

until he hears the rain music return

© crossconnect, inc 1995-2004 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania's kelly writers house |