A Question of Time

Every time he leaves, I hear his death.

This morning while my consciousness nudged his
and they agreed just five more minutes
I imagined the phone call.
And I thought I'd better start now,
kissing him goodbye. 
The last one shared beneath wildfire skies
in this latest hottest summer.

This morning particulate levels 
went red again, which is 'stay inside.'
(Imagine this seriously.)
My city is taking trophies for pollution
and we pray for rain. I conjure his
breath. Another 
endangered species.

At afternoon, the long-desired shift. 
The scent of rain arriving
is the rattle of my beloved's key
in the lock of the long-parched house.
But he's not returned.
Don't you imagine 
that I would rather be wrong?

Then he's there to kiss my forehead
and my breath restarts. Tomorrow 
is September, middle age, 8 billion humans. 
I am not burning, today. 
But always: the smoke.

Originally published in The Clackamas Literary Review, 2019

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