by Eugenie Theall
After a good day with sea salt still in your hair,
you turn to the man next to you in the shower,
whom you called
Handsome the first time you saw him,
when you reached for the salt shaker at his table.
This man of words, of fine upbringing and etiquette,
became motionless. A deep quiet fixed his mouth, clamped
his tongue, as he watched your hair fall, detected
something familiar dabbed behind your ear. Vanilla?
Like a white hare dashing across the snow
that is suddenly spotted, he froze, tried to blend
into the wooden booth. You didn’t notice the forearm crutches
off to the side, didn’t know there had been an accident,
that rehab couldn’t promise a full recovery, nor the weight
of guilt as his fiancé sobbed goodbye. When a colleague
formally introduced you, you hinted you’d like a tour
of the countryside, sixty shades of green dotted with sheep,
parceled by walls of earth and stone, brightened
by brief rain showers. Even when he shyly took off
his soaking-wet clothes, revealing scars like burled walnut,
your mouth watered. As if it were the most natural thing
in the world, you turned to him, satisfied with his skin
as salt lick.

Eugenie Theall’s work won first place in the Elizabeth
McCormack/Inkwell contest and has been published or is forthcoming in
The Alembic, CQ, FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry, Hawaii Pacific
Review, Mudfish, Red Rock Review, The Summerset Review, and other
journals. She holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and
teaches creative writing at a middle school in Mamaroneck, New York.