By Alison Taverna
I came as soon as I heard I rush, collapsing
into the booth. Hayley has already kicked
her Vans off, small stack oozes syrup like a wound.
The Waffle House in Franklin,
Tennessee smells of burnt sugar, sits against
the southern sky in gloom & abandon.
Hayley won’t touch her food. This morning
she left her husband & the space between ruin
& religion is as small as her still doorway.
I’d tell her, if our bodies were churches
we’d have no reason to come outside but even I’ve grown
tired of metaphors. So, I sit. I watch her
under fluorescents & fatty food & for now
it doesn’t matter if she’s flame or fiction.
Hayley, I don’t know what’s fated,
but I’ve seen you pray on stage
& even the venue walls knelt inside
themselves. My own hands pressed.
So what if the overhead lights buzz &
our waitress has forgotten us. I know
if God walked in to order we’d call him Father.
Hayley, it’s okay to remain at this table—sometimes
it takes loving in witness, as I did at sixteen, as I do,
as I am, your blood orange hair rising like a flare.
Alison Taverna earned her MFA in Poetry and Publishing from Chatham University, where her thesis, If We Keep These Bodies, won the Best Thesis in Poetry award. She serves as Assistant Editor at Autumn House Press and the poetry instructor at Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts High School. Her first chapbook, What Hollywood Taught Me won the 2015 Robin Becker Prize from Seven Kitchens Press.