firsts and lasts

“I wrote you too many poems in a language I did not yet know how to speak.”

–Andrea Gibson; “Maybe I Need You

I will still always maintain my belief that
the cough drop on your breath smelled
like mustard when I knew no better;
that the moving of my hand to your breast
in the dark was love; that to kiss you
in the night, half-asleep, dreaming
before lying back into the pillow, sinking
into us, your arm behind my neck —
that was the end of all beginnings.
I will maintain that compromise was
concession, that change was
a surrendering of too much pride —
holding hands was pushing off,
deflection void of contact.

I put your letters in a box
covered in pictures of stars.
The memory of your sleeping
form curled into mine would not
fit with the paper envelopes —
in the interest of closing the lid,
I am keeping the memory elsewhere.
For now, the warmth of you
in the sheets, every tingling
whispered phrase slipped into
the pockets of the dress
you left in my closet: these
are the things I wish
I could bring myself to toss
into the recycling bin,
to be repurposed, shredded
and reassembled for someone
else’s romance, but my weak
hands are stuck in holding on.
Besides, the bin is too small
for all the things we held
between us.

I hope you are crying and
I hope you are losing sleep.
I hope you are writing poems
that I will read in 30 years
in a biography of your life,
lines of verse crowded in a
footnote for that girl
you fell in love with, once,
when you knew no better.
She was a poet of silences,
making you realize
you liked noise.  Too bad,
(I hope you write, one day,
that) we made such great love
with our eyes closed.


3 Responses

  1. Amazing. Form the first to last line I was enthralled. Your images add to the depth of yearning (from the cough drops and starry box to the eyes closed).

    • I’m glad you like it. I guess it’s proof that you should write what you know.

  2. I’ve lurked on Becoming Lyrical for quite some time, and read most of your posted work. I’ve been away for a few weeks, but tonight I read this poem and it motivated me to open a Gravatar account so that I could share how much it moved me. My first and maybe last post (ha!).

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