THE STRANGER

THE STRANGER

I drove out to my best friend’s house in the country last night
To visit what I like to call her “fresh” baby
I came in sweating, as I do, because there’s a particularly good trail nearby
Which I usually stop to run on my way
It’s my habit to storm through the house, kiss everyone without touching
Like a person just come home from a long shift in the ER
“Don’t hug me, I smell like BM”
I’ll spend the next five minutes in the shower
Tracing out all the places I’ve been on the shower curtain map of the world
I can smell
Brigit’s fever-inducing pot of Indian food stewing in the crock pot
I step into the kitchen,
Clean and hungry
And she pours me a beer
Confesses something
While patting the baby, invisible to me,
Who is wrapped several times over
In one of those wildly patterned hippy slings
And slung tightly right in front of Brigit’s belly button
A return to the garden from where she was plucked
Now, the outside looking in

“When she was growing inside me, I felt like I knew her so well
Because I loved her so much
But it’s funny… when she finally arrived,
They put her face down, on my chest,
And when I pulled her away to see her face…”
She stopped, stirred the crockpot and shrugged off some unseen, unwanted touch
“I don’t know.” She said. “I just thought
I would recognize her”
There was nothing I could say
I came around her
And smiled while I put my hand under the weight
Of the baby in her hammock

I’ve looked, some time now
for love
And I’m not sure if it’s hidden from me or if I have overlooked it plain sight
But, somehow, it’s missing from my life

Tonight, I get ready for a blind date
Do all the silly things I would never normally before a night with friends:
Paint my nails candy red, wear perfume and black underwear, put mascara on my bottom lashes, lint roll my pea coat
I sit at the Rossi alone, and order a glass of red wine
He has not arrived yet and that is just fine
Because at 32, I have absolutely no problem drinking alone
As soon as I put it to my lips, he walks in
Sits down in a hurry, visibly nervous
And for a moment he is tangled in his plaid scarf and jacket
When he is free he sees that I am
Laughing
He is not handsome, nor particularly ugly, but has an earnest smile
“What’s so funny?” he asks.
“Nothing, it’s just, I thought I would recognize you”

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