September 25, 2018 by The Citron Review
by Rogan Kelly
A man and a woman sit at a seaside cafe made of red brick turned grey from the salt air. Blue water bleeds into blue sky. Jagged rock or ruins of Rome all making love to Cleopatra or what little remains. The woman wears a cream dress, the color of Bogart’s dinner jacket, an orange poppy placed in her still dark hair. The man is dressed well, but his clothes are creased. His second day, unpressed linens go well with this old city and the sea. He fumbles with a cigarette he won’t light—puts it to his lips like a broken promise. She is electric in stops and starts like a busy street or a wedding. The man is at ease in her story, allows himself to take her in, the tap, tap of her elegant finger against the white metal table. The cafe bustles with conversational Arabic, and they both anticipate the morning call to prayer. The smell of apple tobacco wafts, and the near distant noise of street merchants sound off with their carts and bells. It has been forever since he has seen her. Only now, he has a need to touch her hand. He loves her, though he does not know what kind of love, or wanting, what kind of want. He does not understand his loss nor what she has returned to him. What is temporary, besides everything? There is a sadness in him like this city, like Russian opera or the way a stray dog wails. She seems unchanged to him after all these years, but that can’t be true.
When she stands, she is an ocean against an ocean.
Rogan Kelly is a writer and educator, including a former D.C. speechwriter and special education teacher. He serves as Associate Publisher with Serving House Books. His poems have recently been featured or are forthcoming in Diode, Edison Literary Review, formercactus, Hobo Camp Review, Mojave River Press & Review, PIVOT and Shrew Literary Zine.