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When You Were Here Last

you left a plastic cup from Yankee Stadium —
one of ten you'd collected from emptied stands,
shook free of ice cubes and soda remnants-
in my sink. After I took you to the train
station, I was turning the lock
on my apartment door, and remembered
the pin-striped tumbler, with its fat base
I could hardly wrap a hand around.

In the kitchen, I rinsed
the cup, dried it with the cheap paper towels
(the ones you had trouble tearing
along the perforations, leaving the tube
looking like a rolled up oriental carpet
with tassled edges). I staked
the highest cabinet, dragging
a chair over so that I could reach it.
Your cup kept company with dill-
pickle jars, blackberry preserves,
canned shrimp, sweet relish. It was the only
thing there without an expiration date.

I let it ripen in a dark corner.

A few weeks later, after a poetry reading,
I came home with an armful of yellow
flowers and sparse greenery
no one else wanted to carry home, eyeing thorns.
On the kitchen table: the glass vase full
of rouge roses, baby's breath,
crystal clear water:
like a magazine ad or florist shop window.
From my roommate to his wife.

Still in boots, I lifted a cushion and clacked
on the kitchen chair, reached up to the cabinet,
pulled down your cup.

I wrapped two hands around its form.

In the sink, I filled it with tepid water,
thinking of those nine other tumblers
rolling along grey concrete beneath bleachers,
empty. I studied my sleeping flowers, swaddled
in the white butcher paper, set on chipped countertop.
Satisfied with their silence,
the girth of the tumbler and its water,
I reached over, unwrapped the bouquet,
and awakened them with a plunge
into your cup.

Cristina J. Baptista lives in New York City, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature at Fordham University. Most recently, her poetry has been published in Paradigm, Eight Octaves Magazine, Hobble Creek Review, and Mannequin Envy. Past writing projects include literary essays, news journalism, public relations work, and serving as an Editorial Assistant of medical textbooks.