Much Later

It wasn’t a marriage, you said on the phone, because we didn’t always live together.

A decade together, a decade ago. Now why should it matter?

Still I hadn’t fully understood the complexities of subtraction.

Take away Capri, where you convinced me they filmed blue Il Postino.

Forget that you asked me to go there to marry you. Cancel the grave Don Antonio

who consented, without all the documente, to join us in Santo Stefano,

the gold throne chairs at the altar, Umberto’s Marlboro box

on the railing, the soar of Ave Maria. Cross off

the knee-high nun who hugged my waist, saying auguri, auguri,

the arched doorway that rained candied almonds.

After we came home and made it legal,

a clerk came out from behind the bulletproof window.

Shred the card he extended, which gave the exact, atomic clock time of our union.

After I got off the phone, I dug out the album, flipped through the pictures

of nothing: the one in which you clutched me under the tower, the one of the famous ceramic

chapel floor of Adam and Even in the garden.

The one of impossible rocks in the background between us.

Jean Kane teaches English at Vassar College. Her fiction and poetry have been published in American Short Fiction, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, and Indiana Review.