Last night we painted our faces
to tighten the skin and remove dirt from pores.
We sat the required ten minutes
you with the dog
me with a drink
then washed our faces, looked over the results:
My god, the years are erased!
We never met, we never ate pizza, drank wine
ate oysters in Mexico and in New Orleans
got lost on our bicycles, played rummy in a bus station,
played hooky from work,
caught a midday movie, snuck into another,
walked San Francisco,
cried for days on end, got caught in the rain,
overslept and lied our way out of obligation,
watched so much TV we fell back asleep
and forgot to feed the cat,
ate take out food, made a snack at 2:00 AM
got drunk in the afternoon
you on wine
me on scotch
and walked until we sweat alcohol;
we never burned food because we forgot
it was cooking
or wasted all our money or gave away our clothes
or watched your nephew grow up
or drove through Chicago for hours
we couldn’t stand the apartment,
and we never kissed, laughed, never teased each other,
you never told me I steal the covers,
we never said the three words
much less the two,
we never broke a promise or bought flowers
or wrote poems or replaced the shabby coats
and shoes; we never tolerated the other’s
bad breath or prostrated at the feet
of our odd bodies, we never
subsisited off peanut butter sandwiches
and fretted over back accounts
or asked the other to read an email
before we sent it, or to borrow
money until payday
or trust each other
with each other.
None of it! We got the years back.
“Mud” first appeared in The Penn Review.
Vincent Francone is a writer from Chicago whose memoir, Like a Dog, was published in the fall of 2015. He won first place in the 2009 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition (Gwendolyn Brooks Award) and is at work on a collection of poems and stories. Visit www.vincentfrancone.com to read his work or say hi.