Sometimes I can still feel
Your fingers tracing lazy circles
On my shoulder
Your arm draped around me
On a summer’s night
The taste of honey and whiskey
On my tongue
The song of the cicadas
Humming beneath the lines of Shakespeare
As we watched a play in the park
A phantom touch
That feels like yesterday
And not years ago
Have you ever watched
As the crawl of time
And the sprawl of distance
And the weight of responsibilities
And the busyness of the mundane
Turned dearest friends
I looked about myself one day
Like a shell-shocked soldier
And wondered how this happened.
How did I end up here alone?
As if I wasn’t at the helm
Of my own life
And this was all an unpleasant surprise
Rather than the result of
The choices I made
I keep the book you gave me
On my mantel as decor
I see it every day
My eyes skate past it
As I go about my routine
The rhythms of a solitary life
Or if I see it, it’s just a part of
My collected pieces on display
One book of a few
When my eyes lit on it
And I thought of you
And the memory stuck fast
Like a bramble to my skin
A pang that dulled to an ache
For what was or might have been
I hope it will go back to being
Just another book again
I dreamed of what my life could be
Of cities, loves, and being free
To win a heart, to take a name
To weather change, to stay the same
I dreamed of music building slow
I dreamed a whisper, close and low
Beloved face, familiar form
I dreamed the other pillow warm
But cold the bed, the empty home
I wake to find myself alone
Things are not as they had seemed
And thus, the dying of a dream
You wanted me to be an open book to you
You wanted me to lay bare my pages for your perusal
To be picked up and casually browsed
Book-marked and dog-eared
And in the end you were angry
That I was difficult, inaccessible
I’m not saying I’m a masterpiece
I’m no Hemingway or Steinbeck
But I can tell you this:
I’m not a synopsis
Not a CliffsNotes guide
No eighth grade reading level novella
I am difficult to grasp
Impossible to master
My words are fluid
My meter erratic
My lyric baffling
I am a mystery even to myself
And a hundred readings will not
Make me anything less
Even if Death does not steal those you love,
Time slowly inserts wedges between lives,
Driving people further apart
Time deadens the ache you feel for friends.
It numbs the pain of missing them.
Time gives you certain experiences
That are not shared with those far away.
Time hands you moment after moment
Until your hands are overflowing with seconds,
So that you must drop some memories, cut some ties,
To hold them all.
But that is just the nature of time-
It moves ever on.
So do people.
One by one, birds fly away.
It is not in their nature to stay.
I do not think about you from time to time
and wonder how you’ve been.
I do not ponder if your broken heart has healed,
and if you’ve found love.
I do not feel a pang at that thought,
nor do I feel an accompanying sense of relief.
I do not worry about the path you’ve taken
or hope for your safe return home.
I don’t see your face in my dreams
or consider what your family must think
or replay any of our memories in my mind.
Clearly, you see, I do not think of you at all.