Stephanie Valente

Three Lyric Essays
In which we say, “Hello.”

There are many things my lips want to say to you: oily, drowsy vowels over flowers
and tepid woodbines. There are half-words I keep hidden underneath my tongue,
waiting for the spring or the right amount of static on the telephone line. You and I
stay quiet, as if we have transgressed some imaginary number of allotted words.
    I wait for the break; it comes before the dial tone. Your voice says it in a slow
and deeply perfect tone. I hear the ruffling on my end. Water beads inside my
throat. My breath speaks before I do.
    "Eat the pomegranate," you say.

The Empathic and the Erudite

"This is when I ask you not to fall in love with anyone else," you say. My hands do
not move when your lips have closed. My voice says, “But how could I do that?”
    I sit across from you: a little bee, a girl folding her hands. Such knitted slim
    We are both scared, two tepid bodies whose mouths water at the first cut of
sticky peaches. You are not afraid to speak, but you do not draw the first breath.
This girl and I are not in the business of trading alibis. I return to the peaches and
think about how my palm should be on top of her thigh. I put it there.
    "Don't worry,” I say.  “I adore you too much."
    You smile, and for a second, your nails press too hard into my skin. Your
eyelashes are curled, the corners of your mouth twirling precisely. I slice the fruit
and put a wanton piece up to your lips.

On A Search for Alibis

It's like leaving an ad in the classifieds, or the personals. Money and love are the
thing these days, and still not a soul responds. A man with careful hands waits; so
many telephones to be left ringing. This man, meticulous and rational, but easily
dismayed at the turn of a wrist. He listens to the secretarial girl—pencil skirt, half
written notebook, and all.
    Trains will come and go, dogs will yap, and shoes will scrape against the bitter
pavement. And the rest of the world will turn into night.
Stephanie Valente lives and writes in New York. Her work has appeared in Italics Mine and
other journals. She is currently working on a collection of short stories and as always,
poetry. She enjoys candlelit smiles and diamond cut laughter. One day, she would like to
become a silent film star. Her favorite desserts are crème brûlée and strawberry-rhubarb pie.
She can be found at: