Marie Howe


The delivery man slowly climbs 

the five steep flights of stairs

as I lean down to watch him walking up

as he’s talking on the phone

and now he pauses

on the third-floor landing

to touch a little Christmas light

the girl had wrapped around the bannister – 

speaking to someone in a language 

so melodic I ask him what – 

when he hands the package up to me,

and he says Patois – from Jamaica – 

smiling up at me from where he’s standing

on the landing

a smile so radiant that

re-entering the apartment I’m

a young woman again, and

the sweetness of men I’ve loved walks in,

through the closed door

one of them right now,

kicking the snow off his boots,

turning to take my face in his cold hands,

kissing me now with his cold mouth.