Alex Stolis
Alex Stolis

Paper-Thin Hotel

The evening street sounds filter up to our room, taxis
honk at the short staccato whistle of a traffic cop. Our
bed is turned down. There is a desk against the wall,
inside the ashtray is the button from my shirt, the one
you promised to mend after a weekend in Montreal.
Unsent letters sit in unopened drawers. You tell me
stories of how it was before we met. How the sky
was two shades of orange, how the last clouds slid
down the mountain. How perhaps we knew each other
in another life or perhaps we’d meet in a future one
and our need to connect was so great we would recognize
each other our next time through. Right now, it feels
like rain, the air tastes of ginger and cinnamon. We live
the inevitability of two of a kind. You wear a favorite
camisole; hair pulled back, unmade mouth, a flash
of white from a tear in the shade lands on your thigh.
It’s time to see the future. You check tea leaves, ask
to read my palm. Take my hand in yours, smile at my
disbelief. I close my eyes and feel the brush of your
lips in the middle of my hand. The clock ticks slower,
you don’t say a word, go out, under the stars, calculate
how our maps cross. Perhaps we are at our intersection
but let’s journey together for a while; let’s stay undone,
stay bare, unfinished and unalone. 

Rain in the furnace

She never believed when I told her she was beautiful,
turned her head, laughed it off and changed the subject:
the weather in Rome, the cut of my clothes, the right time
of day to have tea. There were acts and scenes and replays.
There were flashbacks and fast forwards and rewinds.
The only things left: the soft crush of her breasts against
my back, hands over my eyes, the brush of her fingertips
down my forearm on her way to holding my hand. I picture
her on a farm, in a field walking slowly, the wind along
for the ride. She wears a muslin skirt, the one she mended
again and again, an everyday sweater, its color faded
a pale blue to match her eyes. There are black birds
sitting in a crooked tree, startled away by the dust kicked
up by a speeding pick up. I whisper her name to an empty
room. I feel the curve of her shoulder as she takes another
step, pauses, pauses onetwothree. And in that moment we
are in Paris, on the banks of the Seine. We kiss behind
a column in Sacre Coeur. She sticks her tongue out at
the disapproving look of an old woman. There are lazy
mornings and café nights, room service and do-not-disturb;
we are all expectation and ruination. We are two people
in two different places at the same time. The lights dim
and the stars fade to black, my eyes close, it is spring
and there we are: nothing but gravel roads, slow dances,
unmade mouths and silence.