Molly stood at the window
and looked down at the ghostly
street. Flowered gossamer swirled
around her legs—that had barely
seen a newborn sun for ages.
Here and there a solitary walker, but no
crowds waiting at lights, no city traffic.
She lit a menthol cigarette
with regular matches,
the windows closed. Scents
of mint and sulphur—
reminders of nearby parks
and working class yards
behind the buildings stinging her
An ice cream truck parked
in a driveway for little kids
climbing on jungle gyms after
school, and union men on break;
no rule says you have to be under
the age of eight to like a cone.
None of this climbed up to Molly—
just mint, sulphur, and memory.
She was a people painter, believed
grace required the breath of humans.
—a couple peeked down from the terrace
across the way and she knew
she could paint. With one motion
she stubbed the cigarette, set up her easel,
closed her eyes. Molly wouldn’t paint
this couple she’d met casually,
she just needed them. His tapered writer’s
hands, her witty brilliance, their living.
Molly’d saved her heart, her time, her canvas,
painted all the absences this couple could bear.
Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was published by Cholla Needles Press. “Symmetry: earth and sky” was just published by Main Street Rag. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).