It was our last summer together, though
we couldn’t have known it. Love in the time
of Covid. Our 45th wedding anniversary,
which we were going to celebrate in a studio
apartment in the Marais, on the first floor
(unheard of in Paris) opening into
a flower-filled courtyard. But cancelled—
no international flights. And here, brutal
heat that pressed like an anvil when we made
infrequent runs for groceries or the mail.
Our favorite restaurant had a tent,
but the humidity meant dining in a sea
of sweat, so we ordered take-out, ate it
at the kitchen table in the cool breath
of air conditioning: filet mignon
with demi-glaze, buttermilk mashed
potatoes, red wine braised onions,
asparagus, maitake mushrooms, some
gooey dessert, all of which we split—
it was too hot to eat more. We should
have been extravagant, Champagne
instead of my austere glass of Bordeaux.
But how were we to know the trip
would never happen, that this anniversary
would be our last? Because we never
wanted it to end—nights wrapped around
each other, holding hands on our evening
walk, kisses sweeter and darker
than chocolate. Who coined the word
“forever”; did he know it was a lie?
Barbara Crooker

poems online



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