He sold antique keys and odd door handles
from a worn wooden table in La Rochelle.
He had no children -- he was sterile,
and he had no wife -- she'd left him.
I'm going on the boat, she'd said,
her bags slumped down beside her
on the smooth tiles of their kitchen floor.
He knew her hands were rough from polishing
keys and sanding handles. He knew she wanted
the sweet paraffin of Paris on her fingers,
but still, he thought that she was bluffing,
thought that she would never leave.
They won't ease your calluses there, he said
without looking into her pale, freckled face.
Someone will, she responded, and left,
stepping softly but deliberately on each
of the wild poppies that grew along
the concrete of their front porch.
Now everyday he sits by his table by the water, alone.
Unsure if he misses her light sunflower scent,
her auburn hair, her rounded features,
unsure, if he misses any of her at all.
He knows what he doesn’t like, and wouldn’t miss,
is the rust that’s come since she’s gone away.
When younger girls walk by or stop to browse,
he admires them, stares tactfully at them.
He notices their small breasts and rounded bottoms
peeking ever so slightly out from under
their tiny, summer dresses.
He sometimes jokes with them,
says he has the keys to their hearts,
but, mostly, he just keeps quiet
and stares past his table,
out to sea.