wanted some day to be curtained in her blonde hair,
To understand exquisite things about her movements
In the dark. I wanted to bid her keep my spare key
And when I walk in one day from Critical Practice 7002,
Find she's wrapped herself in the bare room's air,
And nothing else save the gold chain I gave her.
I wanted to pass my hands lightly across every pore
And mole. I wanted to taste the freckles on her back,
And get hair stuck between my front teeth, allowing
The stray curl to stay as long as it likes.
I wanted some day not to remember how longing felt,
To be in the middle of some paragraph about a
Lean, pale youth parched of love and not know the next line.
I wanted to find myself in some meeting room too early
In the morning, getting a catch in my breath at the
Scent left on my hand an hour before.
I wanted to worry about what the neighbors might hear.
And I wanted her to keep indoors when
I'm gone, and lie in bed, smiling at the thought of
The kiss I left and my words, "Be good. Be mine."
I wanted to brand her left flank with my red initials,
And poke them sometimes in public, and when
Necessary pinch till the blood rises through the N.
Now she's someone I've not met, but I know her voice:
A honeyed, maternal sub-soprano with no roughness
And a tendency to sigh and moan in everyday talk,
Not only, say, when a child toddles past. I know her walk, too.
She's tentative with her steps and looks downward
As if to avoid treading the cracks, but she doesn't.
She knows what can't be helped, and what can.
Some days she wears her glasses, others she doesn't.
In truth she doesn't need them, but thinks (falsely)
They lend her authority. Whether she has ever been
Loved, I can't say, but were she to go out of her
Way one day, perhaps after the new Updike,
She might find her hand touching mine in my
Accustomed bookstore, and flinch a little
Before washing me in her eyes' pure color.
But should I call right after? Send a card of thanks
For the gift of her presence at my table, in the Cineplex?
Or would that be too much? If I pass by on my way,
Can I knock on her door? And if her "friend" Donald
Is there, do I shake his hand, then leave them two alone?
My mother knows all the answers here,
Although she dated a total of eight months before
Meeting my father in the Daisy Queen.
Tonight I made my semi-monthly call home
And fielded a question the wrong way, hinting how
The whole thing ended with both bangs and whimpers.
"She probably saw the way you live and
Thought she could do better," she said,
Attempting a tone of sympathy she cannot attain.
When I hung up, I thought of the Sunrose Merlot
Chilling in a green bottle behind the Yoohoo six-pack.
In an hour, that green missile rolled around my
Coffee table with the trajectory only empties manage.
I struggled to my desk and wrote some of the book:
About Monica listening in on her neighbor, for whom
She lay a week prior, but he hadn't phoned since,
Only met her by chance as he went for his mail,
According to her a cursory good morning, as if
Forgetting she wore his seed on her belly like a wreath
Through the night and heard him mumble in his sleep.
I wrote her onto a chair, holding to the ceiling
The cold bell of a stethoscope, hearing nothing
She can call an answer. I recall looking
At my watch at nine, then two.
Then I saw on the floor under my desk a flare
Of liquid purple I couldn't remember depositing.
And at some point, I believe, for the first time in years
I cried aloud, my head upturned and propped
On my arm, offering my song to my room's upper corners
A cappella. I left my lute somewhere dark, you see.
Whether I was helped, or she was wooed, I can't say.