Is this how the end comes? A blond boy
in a business suit, a shiny black pen?
Or just a messenger sent to reap a few profits?
Reverent, we sit and listen to our death benefits
issue from his smooth, confident mouth. He has no wife
no kids; it's time to think of your child, he says.
We glance at one another and wonder
which of us will go first, and which will find out
what it's like to put another in the grave.
Later, we agree we'd rather go out together,
a ball of flame on the way to Paris, vaporized
while holding hands. But we don't have the money
for Paris, and even death is less fearsome
than solitude. So we sign, of course we sign, easy
comfort, like taking aspirin or stepping out of the rain.
Next day: the baby is with her sitter,
and we are suddenly a couple again. We take in a movie
as if hours are chocolate and plentiful.
At the end the credits roll and rise, we exit together
through the theater lobby, holding hands until
the too-narrow door that empties
onto the cold, darkening lot. We stop.
"Go ahead," you say;
and I say, "No honey, you go on."
Andrew Hinton is an information architect living in Phoenixville, PA.
Some previous publications have been in The Georgia Review, Quarterly
West, and the Southern Poetry Review.