my understanding of youth was
interrupted vignettes, I guess.
the little moments overlapsed the
greater moves like
deciding to move to Canada.
or learning I could *******.
but all that sticks is little toys
received at Christmas, the
talking plastic face we tried to
stuff down in the side storage of the
family van on a long drive to the far
the way some jellyfish stung my leg and
realizing there existed a kind of pain
that patience could will away.
but I had to go to England for a month. to get outside myself.
coincidentally meeting up with a girl who'd
read my poems, thought them ok.
spent two days, stupid, with what we thought were romantic notions.
then walked that old dog through endless English fields
inhaling my hands incessantly until the scent at last had dried away.
I am a different person now.
But back then I walked till my feel hurt, then
collapsed in a city I'd never been, and
Only lamented the complications I'd caused
when she dragged me back to Lockerly again.
Made bacon, warmed bagels, softened cheese, poured wine
in a house, not mine, in the English countryside.
Are these not the dreams, when young, we live by?
She kissed me on the porch, on a bench,
the night before she caught the train.
(I remember I was sitting on the left. )
Inside later asking, politely, if she would undress.
And the next morning, new to this,
We were sixteen, what did we know?
We'd listened to pop music from a small stereo and didn't have ***.
And that morning all I
could do was go with her to meet the train.
Then keep walking that small dying dog
as if he could fill in the rest.
Part Two (interlude)
She visited my parents' house later that season in a summer dress.
We sat at the dining room table, for maybe an hour,
Making small talk, and then she left.
That was the first time she'd worn a dress.
I came back from college wanting to do something stupid, so we
Put on headlamps and invaded the sewers, skewered
the brickwork waded in filth I thought
Who, if anyone, would follow someone through this mess?
Then we drank one beer each from our
sewage-soaked sacks, went to the unrenovated room
my parents had reserved, sheetboard and a mattress...
In case I ever came back.
We watched Perfume, the film, on a laptop, then had ***.
I mean it was
***, but so much less. Less than the painting I had in my head.
Less than the time we ran away to France.
Less than four years of high school.
Less than a glance.
We woke around ten. Dressed. She
looked me in the eyes with what I didn't know was goodbye.
Shook my hand, and left.
But in those first few half lidded moments
(when dreams are hit with light and turned to steam)
when you know what's coming next but first must find a missing sock, must
scan the room for evidence
When naked in bed and sober now and so
confused yet actualized at least lifted to
meet the north window winter light when this
immovable stone of a woman rose
hands on my shoulders and coward-like kissed me from behind
I threw everything I thought I knew at
something I'd no right to know. Her
dark skin, her skinny fragile frame. With I
so grossly white in the December light. Wanting
everything, too young
to know what yet.
You know who you are.
You who laid there.
You who, raised up,
Placed lips on my my right shoulder, from behind.
You who kissed me in the back.
Then clasped your bra and
quickly dressed. Didn't want breakfast.
and before my stepmom could notice: left.
Several years have passed. I've
Maybe never felt loved like that.