damage treated softly

seeming to contemplate every breath,
rachel had eyes resembling scars,
unevenly threaded atop sharp, pale cheekbones,
viewing each moment as an experiment.
when she allowed me to hold her hand
halfway through the movie,
i wasn't surprised to find it cold and thin.
her legs never moved, as if bolted to the
theater floor. upon hearing her only laugh
i felt the familiar chill i'd experienced
before, knowing somebody was going to die soon.

as the credits overtook the screen,
she leaned into me and kissed my cheek.
when she spoke, her breath was the chill of
peppermint, her voice uncomfortably young.
i'm not going to sleep with you. not tonight.
i squeeze her hand,
offering assurance,
understanding, something to tell her that i'm
one of the good guys.
he just kept hitting me.
then she abruptly joins the parade of people
marching up the aisle towards the theater exits.
she never looks back.

it's not until we are seated in my jeep that
she acknowledges me, turning in her seat
with a gust of denim-jacket,
the sway of autumn-blonde hair.
do you think you'll still call me tomorrow?
i try to smile yes, but i can see my hesitation
reflected in her blue-bruised eyes.
i'm surprised at the heated blush spreading
across my face.

did you enjoy the movie? i hear myself asking.
yes. and the popcorn was excellent.
she lights a cigarette, simultaneously retrieving
the pint of whiskey from the glove compartment.
would you like to go home?
i ask in a way that implies that is precisely what i'm about to do.
yes, but drive slow. you're good for me.
when we arrive at her home,
she turns in her seat and examines my face
with her slender fingers, they feel warm
like the whiskey.
i just wish we had enough time


Copyright © 2010 Derek Richards


After failing miserably as a rock star, Derek Richards began submitting his poetry, August 2009. Over 130 of his poems have appeared in over seventy publications, including Lung, Breadcrumb Scabs, MediaVirus, Calliope Nerve, tinfoildresses, Opium 2.0, Dew on the Kudzu, Sex and Murder, Splash of Red and fourpaperletters. He has also been told to keep his day job by Quills and Parchment. Nothing annoys him more than poetry written solely to make someone feel stupid. His ferret, cat and puppy couldn't agree more. Happily engaged, he resides in Gloucester, MA., cleaning windows for a livng.