Organic Compositions

by Claudia B. Manley

You live with your mother. That much you've told me.

That's fine with me. I have a roommate. We make arrangements. It's much easier than living at home.

You clarify that living with your mother is different than living at home.

As you speak I see a little flame jutting from the side of your head. I know it comes from the steel plant in the distance, but it amuses me to think that it comes directly from you.

We walk on. You like to stop when speaking. It means that it takes forever to get anywhere.

I like the smell of your skin. As we walk, we shift positions, and this allows me to catch a whiff of you. Others seem to find us curious as you stop to let me cross in front of you to get to your left and then five feet later you pivot behind me.

It's a lovely dance we do.

You goad me on. C'mon, you say, don't stop, keep going, who cares if it doesn't work this time? It could happen the next time you try it and if you don't keep trying, that special "next time" will take longer to arrive.

Although we are still as you speak, I am out of breath. You expect so much from me.

I am dying to touch you. To roll your lower lip between my forefinger and thumb, to gently pluck stray hairs from your neck, to rest my head on your hand.

You and I are list keepers. Those are just some of the things on my list.

You let me see one of your lists. I am as amazed by the beauty of the layout as I am by its contents. I crumple my own list back into my pocket.

Where is it?, you ask.

I only shrug.

Give it here. I know you have it. I saw it on your "To do" list for today.

I do not know when you saw my "To do" list, but I pull the wreckage from my pocket.

You smooth it out along the glass of the cafe tabletop. I feel smoothed by you and sink more easily into my chair.

It takes you almost an hour to straighten and read my list. I watch your eyes.

When you finish you look at me. Don't ever treat a list like tha