On a cocktail napkin in the dining room,
he left a coffee ring. A wrinkled circle
on a paper square. I wish he’d forged
a diuturnal mark on book-matched oak
veneer. A stain I couldn’t polish out
with Pledge, that branded thoughts of him each time
I cleared the plates and knives. Or a cigarette burn
on the upholstered chair, some permanent scar
to show that he’d been here. Instead, there’s this
four-fold, translucent, paper souvenir
that will degrade and fade with air and time.
His cup’s imprint tinted by overflow
and what might be the gray smudge of an ash.
Proof of his presence, his breath, that I can hold.