It is raining.
The sink is full of dirty dishes but I’m cooking anyway
a blue colander balances on chipped teacups.
I am singing a song we used to know
starched water spits through thin
metal mesh, when I think
I see it vanish
slip through the torn screen I have yet to mend.
My apron hangs loose; the straps undone
as I dash into an overgrown garden
and search under droopy hydrangea bushes
sift through weeds
dandelion, burdock and clover
but find nothing but my frenzied self
in the kitchen again
on my knees stuck to linoleum
sweating and looking through lids
thumping through clutter
thumbing through recipe cards
old torn oak tag splattered with oil and water.
Desperate now I rummage through the recycling bin
where a broken bottle makes me bleed
I suck the wound and continue searching
lick my lips as the salty flavor lingers
when suddenly

I find it
happily napping beneath the ash
from your smashed cigarette
you must have tossed it in the trash.
Frantic, I step outside to dissect the fragments
and salvage what is left of the powdery mess
but it is only dust and disintegrates in the wind.
Panting, I return to rescue supper but
the kitchen is shrouded in wet grey light
pale egg noodles dead in a strainer,
like coagulated flesh so I give up
and run my fingers over the screen
hoping I’ll find it before he gets home
but likelihood wanes as
sharp ribbing bites my thumb.

It is teeming now, tears tap our roof
and that’s when you appear
so I tiptoe toward you
to tell you that it’s missing
to tell you that it’s out there
to tell you that it’s waiting
for us to run naked and
find it swirling in the rain
instead we each retreat indoors
to the safety of what we know
as it slips home during the night
and we ignore it over
coffee in the morning

Stacey Z. Lawrence teaches Poetry and Creative Writing at Columbia Senior High School in Maplewood, NJ.