Dina L. Relles

Yellow House, Lannion 1893 James McNeill Whistler

the yellow motel

when i read the word motel in a book, i remember when you left me in the yellow one (and again in the airport morning-dark) before we put all those flat miles between us (your accent what i miss most) when i never asked why you came to my door that night (or what you would have said) or how you knew my thoughts (without me speaking them) when we’d only spent six days in the same city (like a long farewell) where you bought me that book (i left behind in the store) or wore that coat (the same color as mine) and they thought we were married (just something about us) when you sat on my floor (watching me pack) and said don’t write about me (i’m sorry) when you called me on the telephone (so old-fashioned) and said breathe, we’ll be okay when (hours before) you were all out of whiskey (i bought a round) and we sat on a wooden bench in late air laughing (like old friends) until all the others and the strings of twinkle lights circled us (but we felt alone) and i touched your chest (maybe rested my head upon it) and again in the taxi (crying a little) when i wanted you to kiss me (you held my hand) i fell in love with you (too late) and now i am on the road (thinking of you) and the distance between us has become our ongoing (everything ends) and when you called me on the phone (all those years ago) and said breathe, we’ll be okay, now i know you meant you and all i’m left with is (a word in a book and) a question (of when)

Dina L. Relles’ work has appeared in The Atlantic, DIAGRAM, Wigleaf, Passages North, and elsewhere. She’s the nonfiction editor at Pidgeonholes. More at dinarelles.com or @DinaLRelles

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Spring 2022