“Brioche” by Nikki Paley Cox

May 26, 2015

I walked east on Chicago Ave late last week after leaving
the theatre and called Mordechai who I knew would be buried
on his couch in his apartment behind the projects west of Lincoln Center.

His voice cracked but proclaimed Self-indulgence over!
and we laughed but really he said it to remind himself
to throw off the throw sit up and come to. Oh the sugary plumes

pumping out of Love’s Bakery onto the sidewalk as if on cue
like illustrated cartoon clouds carried me up to the hilltop intersection
of River West, where someone was killed the week before and died,

where Chicago was a back-lit backdrop of Chicago – graphite sky, carbon stars
organized into the shape of buildings under a moon that would be full
tomorrow night then maybe never again. Before the bus entered center stage,

I didn’t learn as much as I thought I would. He boiled spaghetti while
we kept talking like we were thirteen on what didn’t used to be called
landlines, when it would have been valuable to shoot

through space and time to the other’s tender stages, junior high
or childhood bedrooms where we’d invert our legs and
some aloneness, split the difference, twirl cords, while now

there are only cellular towers perched in quiet observance
over Halsted. We talked the whole ride north to George. He told me
about a new French bakery on Tenth that tried to pass off challah as brioche

and he yelled at the baker and demanded a blueberry muffin instead because
at least it knows what it is. I laughed loudly on the late bus and in scratched Plexiglas
caught my reflection, also a shatter-resistant alternative to what it once was.

 

 

Nikki Paley CoxNikki Paley Cox’s work has been published in Painted Bride Quarterly, Hanging Loose, Another Chicago Magazine, Gertrude, and others. The Briar Cliff Review nominated one of her poems for a Pushcart Prize, and a new play she’s working on won the 2014 Citizens Play Festival in Chicago. She has an MFA from Emerson College, and with that degree has taught mostly freshman composition at the University of Illinois at Chicago for 11 years.