She wants to know why you don't write her poetry.
You tell her it's too hot to think, wave a laminated menu at your face, relish the breath of cool. The morning sunlight flares off every flat and shiny surface overexposing the inside of the diner, making you squint, and all the light melts together. You're swimming through warm jellified air. Sweat dribbles down your temple and salts your lips--down the side of a red glass of orange juice that leaves an octagonal ring on the formica counter top. Gray smoke rises in a hiss from the grill behind the counter and in the glare becomes cumulus.
Men in CAT caps sit at tables along the walls, shoving forkfulls of Denver omelette into their mouths, dark patches under their arms showing when they cut through their ketchup-slathered flank steaks. They complain about their kids, bosses, wives, jobs, and bills, until their words become a single continuous groaning exhalation.
And you love red-haired Katlin. And you don't know how to tell her without firing the shot you can never retrieve.
She turns inside her yellow flowered sundress so it seems a shell, the band about her shoulder droops toward her arm and so the neckline down. You are only two small movements from seeing it fall away. You have before.
If you tell her you love her, will she laugh?
"On the blessed tide,
of air that ebbs,
each pause between your breaths.
My heartbeat waits,
in suspended pulse,
till reassured will come another."
hoping to be obtuse so if she doesn't get it, you can say you didn't mean it. But it came from where you do.
She leans over the counter to plunge her face into a shaft of air propelled by a gray clattering fan bolted to the ceiling. Then she succumbs to gravity, limbs softened by the heat, plops herself onto the diner stool and pushes a darkened string of wet hair from her eyes.
She picks up a clean white plate. Hides her face for a moment.
"Did you like it?" you say, "I made it up for you. It belongs to you."
The plate says: "What's the rest?"
Products made from melamine formaldehyde resin are sold under many brand names. One is melmac, a trademark of the American Cyanamid company.
The rest is I love you. The rest is life riddled in holes that let in cavernous cold on summer days. The rest is time grown eternal, unendurable without her.
You put a finger on the edge of the plate and push it downward. First see her teary eyes, then lips.
According to the ruminations of "Bakelite World 2001", melamine formaldehyde products are also sold under the trade names Formica, Arborite, Isomine, Melantine, Melaware, Watertown Ware, Melurac, Melbrite, Gaydon, Perstorp, and Coronet, to name a few.
Start to speak:
"And so my life to swim in time
and slide through hours beside you..."
But you can't finish it. The heat weakens your grip on your thoughts. Pick up a melmac coffee cup. Rub your thumbs along the rim before you realize she's watching you, holding her breath, tears merging with the sweat on her neck.
Now drop the cup, fill your eyes with her and say, "God, how I love you. I can't not love you, Kat," so easy.
And now everyone can breathe again.