by Taylor Graham

She’s not in love with every tiler,
and certainly not with this one.
But she’d pull up kitchen flooring
with her fingernails to hear the scrape
of old gummed gray that used to hold
things together, coming up
in chunks and shatters.

When he asks her which pattern,
do you like?, it comes in a whisper
like the first brush of love.
And yet, he has a paunch and dark
in the cracks of his hands. No,
it’s the fragile-crisp tap of fired tiles
in earthen tones that will bear her
weight, breakfast to dinner, beyond
the same familiar recipes, family faces aging
but otherwise the same, until she slips

her grip and lets a grandmother’s
iron kettle clatter on scrubbed tile
which spreads a spider-crack
across its muted gloss.

She’ll hunt the phone book
for a name tat sounds as soft
as unexpected footfall.

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