Spumante foams along the neck of the bottle and flecks our clothes
as the race-worn spittle horses foamed at the iron bits and slathered,
drunk feet dangle from the trunks of Audis that speed celebratory up Chalk Lane
remember being suspended above the churn of steel shod hooves at speed.
Languid ponies loose in paddocks on the Downs serve to reenact the starting line-up,
the day’s winners urged on to glory in a hundred different retold versions.
Shakily, we try out familiar words,
having burnt the bridges that once carried speech
from the island of one man to another.
I knew another language once,
how to tell a love story with my thumb on a bicep
how to say goodbye for now
by not looking back.
I have seen you imagined in your old age
having surmounted everything in between troubled youth
and trembling hands, the memories of a young man’s strength.
When I meet you in these fields again, I know
we will both be young
and fierce, and wild,
having finally cast off this pall of sadness that we’ve needlessly carried
for so damn long.
So I taught you, with a well-aimed rocks glass
that shattered along with whatever lies
I’d told myself about happiness,
how to spit in their faces
and tell them to fuck off, even as they twisted
the knife deeper.
Come back for fixing up when your
black eyes have healed but
you want to be free and wild.
You were born free,
that’s the problem,
everything that’s happened in between.
I have driven until I could see stars,
the florid lights of insomniac apartments and neon strips receding
and slept in the backseat of my car,
remembering what is not mine to keep.
Voyeuristically explored one way streets
populated with ghosts not of my own creating
guilty as a snoop in the house of an absent owner
caught rifling through the drawers.
He was a peddler of wonder
who gave me kites in summer
and concertos, the erring paddle
of canoe bringing us to a bay
where we draw up pike
and have earnest conversations about God.
I named a golden pup Sandy;
Petey let us run errands together alone,
Secretive missions for chocolate chips that grams and I
transformed into cookies.
In lamp light mellow we assemble
mystery jigsaw puzzles and
he confides he has cut down
his sugar intake to one spoon.
They didn’t sat how big a spoon;
He winks through bifocals and coats his wheaties
with a soup spoon of brown sugar.
A garden of improbable fantasy flowers
on a worn duvet that reeks
of the pet labrador that we bury it with.
One hundred acres of clay soil
untended apple trees
dropping fruit along the boundaries.
The unchanging landline,
25 years, we reflexively dial
the most familiar numbers.