she says before we hang up the phone.
The pasty white furniture, curtains,
and walls of his one-bedroom apartment
a collective tabula rasa he embraced at forty-five,
shaping it with rough hands that once molded wet clay
at the living room table on nights the children slept,
with Eddie Vedder’s low rasp pouring over it all.
It’s louder than the air conditioning unit
as I push open French doors to let the dog outside.
The backyard is a bleached yellow-green,
with a man-made lake view of a murky shore
where Muscovy ducks wade along in pairs,
pausing to peck at wriggling tadpoles.
A scene framed by a crooked wooden fence
dilapidated from years of merciless hurricane winds,
its ground with dandelions and rotting avocados
that fall from our neighbor’s overhanging branches,
glistening with pebbles from the tank of a late pet turtle
and that year’s Christmas tree, a dry rust color in March sunlight.
And as my dog’s tail is swallowed by overgrown grass,
his puddle of urine seeps into cracks in the tiled back porch,
trickles toward a plastic vase holding the dried remains
of Felicity, an orchid I drowned last summer.
A single bud is perched on an ink-colored branch,
waiting to burst open into the humid air.
Stephanie Porven is a Creative Writing and Classical Civilization major at Florida State University who is grateful for every fairy tale her parents read to her before bedtime throughout her childhood. She believes butterflies bring good luck and coffee is the elixir of life. Lately, her interests have included struggling to revive the wilted daffodil on her patio and attempting to successfully French braid. Her work has appeared in Hypertrophic Literary and The Birds We Piled Loosely.