What’s sacred

by Theresa Cartier

What’s sacred
between friends is never spoken, but rumbles
in the background like the river
following us through the park this steamy
afternoon. Under a misty white
sun blacktop melts and tar sticks
to our shoes like gum; road sucking in
heat and heaving it back in waves.
He carries lunch and a little
breeze to the picnic table, shades his eyes
as he watches a gray shroud cover the sky.
Looks like rain, most people would say. He smiles
at the approaching drizzle. Great day to
turf a golf course. With steady hands
he unwraps a speckled trout, its eyes and mouth
wide in a death mask of astonishment. That’s
how I must have looked the day he
taught me to paint, teetering twelve feet up
on a scaffold. You never told me 
you were afraid of heights. He bounced
a few times to see if it was true.

Another man might have kissed me; he
kisses the fish on its rubbery lips, lays it on the grill
with its brethren. He tears
a loaf of bread into brown and white puffs.
Here, take this. Our last meal before
he heads West to the mountains. Thunder rolls
through the valley. He places a delicate
filet on the table, we lift our forks;
the heavens open, blessing us.