Eleanor Paynter



Dusk

 

After pressing her fingers

below his ribs once more, after exhaling

 

again in his mouth, she slipped

her right arm behind him, lifted

 

his chest to hers. The days were growing enough

that even at that hour, oak leaves

 

hung distinct from their branches.

As his torso heavied in new weight,

 

they rocked slightly on the planks

of the deck, and as lights spun

 

up the drive, the dog barking, the men

calling out to her; as they strapped him

 

to the gurney she was thinking, maybe, about his old

yellow Fiat, the dog again, or remembering

 

the groceries in the car, his voice

earlier, on the phone, how his face

 

cooled to her neck. What really surfaced in her mind,

no one else can recall. When they were younger,

 

they two-stepped barefoot between living room chairs.

As they wheeled him through the grass

 

she spoke softly to him,

or in prayer, then with perfect

 

precision found her keys, started the car,

followed the taillights to the hospital.

 

Everything she did looked methodical, but maybe

she wasn't sure she'd left the deck or where

 

the dog had run off to. Maybe she still

folds her arms and feels the sinking.

 

It might happen only once, to hold someone so close

there's only one heart beating.



 

Eleanor Paynter has roots in Texas, Rome, and New York, where she completed an MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Recent work has appeared in Washington Square, Weave, Salamander, and Willow Springs. She lives in the Netherlands.









                                    

 

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