His Pillow

Part I

I have had women
leave many different things
in my apartment.

One woman left a coffee cup,
a simple gesture: endearing.
Not staking ownership,
simply establishing presence,
creating a connection.
The gentlest of enmeshing.

It freaked me out,
and I felt like it was some kind of

One woman left her underwear
after they were lost in the fray:
Articles of clothing leaping from the bodies
they adorn
as if they had been waiting to emancipate themselves
for days.
We formed a search party,
and then abandoned hope quickly.
She said
“Don’t worry, I’ll grab them the next time I come over.”
I found them a couple days later,
tangled up in the sheets
like a caring note stuck inside a bag-lunch.

I thought it was a little hot when I found them.
I guess I’ve always had a thing for underwear.

One woman left her toothbrush.
That was serious.
It wasn’t one of the $1 extras that I kept
for overnight guests
that she had laid claim to.
This was her own,
from home.
It was meant to make a statement.
“I’m here enough that this,
this bathroom,
this sink,
this is my shared space.”

The toothbrush is always,
a serious thing.
It overtly states
And an intent to continue
waking up there.
Strategically placed
in one of two rooms used by every guest
to announce a regular presence
that may not be there at the moment,
but will come back.

I learned a lot from that act,
from that toothbrush being there.
I learned a lot from that relationship.

One woman left the engagement ring
that I got her.
She also left me sobbing in a heap
on the kitchen floor
as she and her son drove away.

I pulled myself from the floor
and exchanged the ring for a pocket watch
that I have never worn,
and probably never will.

Part II

This past weekend
something new happened,
And I never thought that it would.

For the very first time
a man
left something at my apartment.
in the same way
that all those women had before.

I had said something jokingly
as he was packing up
from staying the weekend
about accidentally on purpose leaving a t-shirt,
the way that guys tend to do.

Something to return for.
Something that says
“I’ll be back.”
“I want you to think of me
while I’m gone.”

He did not leave a shirt.
Instead, he left
his pillow.
An accident… ?
Something that smells like his hair.
And holds his head
as he dreams.
Something about the size of a torso
that I can hold
and press against
when I sleep.

In an apartment where eclectic
and mis-matched is the theme.
The pillow was a soft and delicate presence
clearly out of place:
proudly lavender
Against the orange patterned
sea of sheets
that it sailed upon.
And when I made my bed in the morning
I put it back in its place.
A way to say
“Hurry back. I keep thinking about you,
when you’re gone.”

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