And, we’re not even that old.
Though in front of you
I see how you forget already.
I hear how you say, you’ll try,
then hug me. But then you lean
and hold too long and next begin
to slip until the strain
is too much for me. And, there it is,
your eyes say,
your body against mine, as if perhaps
you had strayed in your sleep,
and here I was, lucky to catch you.
But, at 52, things are different with me.
Every hour my recollection betters,
with all that time we didn’t have.
I hold you there, bright still,
ripening at my touch,
an orchard of a thousand yous.
Something tells me, I should live.
For what? Every day, I feel in me
the words dwindle,
and hear the new tongue of the breath,
as it meets me in the elevator,
or at the light when it’s gone yellow,
and then red. Breathing is involuntary,
it mouths, again and again. But the heart
is not. It is the sun.
The breeze speaks for it when it is gone.
Wait, it says.
This freedom is not the same
as knowing. It lacks the fullness
of you. Meanwhile, the landscape in the field
still has not been removed
of the men who work there,
or their relief in the sun,
stretching its dark arms
through them, ready
to catch the colours that must surely
He’s done writing, the coffee that keeps the tongue awake.
He leaves for the car, next to it finds a necklace,
and wonders, was it dropped by a woman,
reeled away by a flood. Was there time, at least, for touch,
knowing there is nothing to add that subtracts from goodbye.
The intersection’s a straight face blinks, ‘no,’ ‘yes’.
Shadows of birds look to him like parenthesis of flight.
A man from Jamaica waves from an island for a cab.
He writes much of this down on the back of a map of the north.
He writes how stories seem to flow back into their silence,
yellow and brown in the greens of lakes.
He writes of contrails drawing upstream,
and stones of hardened creeks cupping them in the way
he brings the echo of her vanishing to his lips.
Maybe you are here tonight, back there,
sitting behind the darkness.
That darkness resembles you, you know,
and perhaps speaking to it
resembles me, who when he’s done
reading this, will have another coffee,
take the backroads he used to get here,
forget you again, like directions
to some place we needed each other
to bring the other to. You always insisted
on the open cup, your small shoulders that rose,
inhaling its steam as if you knew
you knew you’d disappear, too.
But, you don’t, both of us so inept,
even me forgetting how to forget,
reading tonight about a woman
who wondered what I would say next
if I’d run out of words. I don’t tell her,
because this is exactly what
I’m hoping for, that nothing
would happen in that poem,
that you would disappear in it,
that I would follow.
I was going somewhere, it seemed.
My clothing folded in piles on the bed.
I was putting them away.
The sun edged the corners of the drawers.
It occurred to me,
it’s not too late to change my mind,
to forget all that’s happened,
that I’d just arrived,
who had just stepped out for a moment,
who had been here waiting for me,
the sun edging the corners
of the drawers.
I watch if you’ll see me with your smile.
I see you as you get ready.
I see already as the brush travels
through your hair.
I see as you dust on your makeup.
I see as you reach for the sheets
that have dried on the line.
I listen as you laugh with the kids.
I listen as the dogs bark at your car.
I watch as the birds burst from the light
that filled in the trees.
admits, your life
means nothing; still you hope
for it, like a sail rigged
to become a shape
of surprise, to transport
In the morning, the night
still in me, I catch her, a face,
a revelatory pose, and eyelids seamed
with two black caterpillars set upon cheekbones
regarding the teeth
working to pull apart
meat from the left-over t-bone in her hand,
and I stare, amazed. I know nothing
about this woman. How she will devour me.
What she will become.