Roger Pfingston


After Breakfast


Walking the woods

   across from our house

of forty years,


I’m telling you about

   reading the paper

before breakfast,


how I stopped

   and looked away,

thinking rain, the cat


sniffing, knowing

   the difference

between bacon


and rain, how it

   brought me back

to your sweet doing,


even now,

   your hand taking mine

among the leaves,


their gentle touch       

   and glide over          

our bodies, a few


clinging to my

   sweater as if

to slow the fall.



Lines of Oil


He actually fell asleep

under her practiced hands,

the oil like another skin


sliding between her palms

and his hairy back for which

he half apologized, telling,


because she asked, of the one

massage he’d had years ago,

how that woman teased him


for his hairiness, used the word

hirsute and then asked

if he knew what it meant.


This woman laughed it off

as she dribbled lines of oil,

said she’d seen hairier.


Unused to a stranger’s hands,

he tensed, holding his breath.

Don’t do that, she said, just


breathe normally, and he did

until he woke face down,

blinking his slow return.


When she asked how he felt,

he said, Pleasantly reduced,

which made her pause.


That’s a new one, she said,

leaving the room, looking

for pen and paper.



That Morning


he was coming up out of the woods,

half expecting to see her waiting

at the back door, shaking her head


at his coatless indifference to the cold

when he stopped for no good reason

other than the weight of another year


newly hung on the kitchen wall

above the coffee pot, its red

light still burning, a cup or more.


When he opened the door

the radio told him what time

it was, expected highs and lows,


then some liner notes about

the next composer whose name

seemed vaguely familiar.


He poured the remaining coffee

into his cup and joined the cat

at the window. He stood there


thinking it was longer than

he should; he stood there

thinking it didn’t matter.


And then he stood there

until it did, his turning away

scattering birds from the feeder.


Roger Pfingston is a retired teacher of English and photography who lives in Bloomington, Indiana. He is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two PEN Syndicated Fiction Awards. His poems have appeared recently in Poet Lore, U.S. 1 Worksheets, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Ragdale, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.



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