Poetry and Poetics
Ten months after she came through town
On a visiting writer gig and you fell in love
With her as you fell for every smart, gifted,
Lovely woman you met, I ran into her
And her husband at a conference and at first
She didn’t remember me, which was no great surprise—
How long was she here, a day-and-a-half of a two-week tour?
But then she did, I think, and we chatted
Superficially while I remembered
The little current that jumped between the two of you,
An uplift in your voices when you spoke to each other
At dinner that night, the extra clink of your wine
Glasses when you toasted her reading, visit, presence.
Oh she was charmed because you were charming
In the way you always were—and then some.
My guess is that you kept in touch with her
As you did with so many people you met and admired,
Sending them compliments, poems, your heart.
As we chatted in the hotel lobby I thought
I should tell her that you are dead, killed
Three months after she was here, and as soon
As I thought it I knew that I couldn’t
Stand to see her face suddenly alter
With the force of it, her whole body sag as if a few
Small bones were abruptly pulled out of her.
I couldn’t stand to explain what happened or say
I don’t know to so
many of her questions.
I realized the enormous control I had—
The power to change her entirely in an instant
Or let her remain as alive as you are
In her memory, and I took selfish comfort in that,
Stirring it with the guilt I felt for not telling her.
I don’t recall a single thing we said to each other but soon
She was walking off with her husband happy
She said to have seen me again and maybe, as I slid
Into the revolving door, she remembered you
With a little smile still alive.
© by Eric Nelson
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