ephemeral environment

Apartment as afterlife

by Ella Bartlett

Ceiling with wooden beams, your father’s ceramic tea cups

Crawfish etched into the tile behind the stove

their backs curving easy, invisible water, waiting space. 

Swimming from the other end of the Atlantic, your body

a crepuscule like the two moons of your hips at the sink

as you peel a mango, your back turned to me

and your feet planted on the cherry-tart linoleum. 

Five months ago we dammed the estuary, our lips

closed, we picked the perfect night. We told ourselves

when we stay in Amiens, our fate will carve out time

for us and let us leave handprints on the walls. 

The silence is a siren going past, the escalating rain

the stereo that you turn on, my tongue dissolving

the faint sugar of my last smile. Briefly, we dig

our heels into the floorboards, paramour, flitted 

with our heads hung like strange flowers, searching

for the warbling sunlight coming through the glass. 

Ella Bartlett is an Iowan-born, New-York-educated, and Paris-based writer. This poem was inspired by a moment right before a departure. You can follow her on Twitter @EllaTheRewriter.