Laura Sweeney

At the Fountain

Despair 1 by Lette Valeska

Under a canopy of trees by the courtyard’s pool we toss a tennis ball to my dachshund Freya. A squirrel scrambles down just low enough to make eye contact then scampers back. We watch her taunt and tease, pause and muse.  Freya, frenzied and frantic to play, barks up the wrong tree.

You tell me you’re going antiquing and when you return, one of us needs to move out.

I pray on the rosary you gave me God please help.

I open your bank statement.  Did you share a popcorn? Hold her hand? Kiss each other in the dark? Did she lay her head on your shoulder and that’s why you texted, “I can still smell you on my coat?” At least it wasn’t our favorite pizza place again.

I ask about the truffles and the Rilke.  You tell me it’s too late to ask anything.

The priest calls, says not to call you my Ex.  I confess that I found chocolate covered strawberries in the freezer, so I ate them.  He laughs, tells me to read the Psalms.

My best friend calls, says it may have taken five years for your true colors to appear but don’t pretend this didn’t happen.

I search your column for the storylines about the Sarah-Anna-Suzanne that broke us.

The black bench is cool, the hostas and ferns droop with dew.  Alone with the cicadas, I bask in their music.  A man scoops muck from the fountain. Freya barks at him.


About the writer:
Laura Sweeney facilitates Writers for Life in central Iowa. She represented the Iowa Arts Council at the First International Teaching Artist’s Conference in Oslo, Norway. Her poems and prose appear in fifty plus journals in the States, Canada, Britain, and China. Her recent awards include a residency at Sundress Publication’s Firefly Farms, a scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and participation in the Kaz Creative Nonfiction Conference. This winter she is reading for Water-Stone Review.

Image: Despair 1 by Lette Valeska (1885-1985). No medium specified. No size specified. 1954. By free license.