The pot of red beans and rice burned, scenting
the garage apartment with smoke-memory
from Orleans Parish, or that backcountry cabin,
the andouille and bacon fat smoothing the texture nicely.
We talked for the last time. You said
it was all going to be better now. I nodded
because my belly had stopped growing inside.
And outside, ice turned to mud-slush
enough for us to ride our bikes to campus
without screw-spiked tires. The days sunned
in length again too. You thanked me
for being your friend. You told me Patricia
would come soon from Chicago. No plans
to marry yet, but time would announce a season
so making the red beans was a practice
to please her and her body. To please
us all, you kept smiling, you kept quiet
and kept riding to work, campus, up dirt trails.
Much later that night, long after I left to return
to my kitchen, and long before morning fog lifted,
you jumped from the grain silo across the street,
the one just outside your bedroom window,
and hit the ground. The snow banks no longer
a soft landing to cradle this new sleep.
Tonight as I mince garlic and burn
the bacon, fat spitting on my apron,
my eyes sting, and I remember how you
left a wet toothbrush on your desk.
How you left us before the snowdrops
had any chance at all to be blue come April.
Jennifer Pons is a high school teacher/writer in Portland, Oregon, and is originally from Chicago, Illinois. Her poems have appeared most recently in Opt West, Psaltery & Lyre, Across the Margin, CutBank Online, Whale Road Review, and EKSTASIS, and are forthcoming in Rock & Sling and Mom Egg Review. She was a finalist in the 2020 Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry and the Pamet River Prize. With a BA from the University of Montana in Literature, she is studying for her MFA at Seattle Pacific University.