I go out for tampons, tea, and a cheap razor. Find them all
at the new bodega, the one with your name spelled the
Spanish way—Vicente. Then beers at your new place. I
paint my mouth with a thick red brush. A kindergartener
trying at lips.

Railroad-style apartment, one half flooded with light.
You live in the dark half. Still, three rooms of your own
in Brooklyn. It’s not nothing. “The room needs mood
lighting,” I say in each room. I drink four IPAs even
though I hate them. Little touches accumulate. A hand
on the hip, a finger on the neck. We hold vowels in our
chests ‘til they burst from slack jaws. Is it overkill for a
lover to arrive hungry? The onions go pap-pap in the skil-
let. You clear the table of ashtrays and empties; tell ex-
girlfriend stories, proof you’ve been desired throughout
history. Low-hanging fruit.

I pretend to listen. Instead count your gray chest hairs,
the years that stretch between us. I fish my phone out of
a pocket, the way anyone does when they want to leave
without leaving. Another round. You call me your best
friend, grab my face and kiss it. But a sentimental drunk
is still a drunk. You can’t fall asleep without music, so
you put something on. An important jazz ensemble I’ve
never heard of, I’m sure. Then a sudden, churning need
for “air” after too many Lagunitas. My steps thud down
your stairs and out the door. I take the city’s fickle dark
into my mouth as I walk, looking up into blue apartment
windows, still hungry.

Erin Little is a poet and essayist based in Jersey City. Her essays can be found in The New Orleans Review, and in 2018 she was included in Cengage Learning’s Anthology of Contemporary Literary Criticism. She is also an editorial assistant at Penguin Random House in New York.