The days were longer now, the sun set later, the evening sky seemed lower than usual, and the snow was the color and texture of a half-cooked egg white, making the world seem soft and lovely and -unexpectedly, to me -nourishing. That the world I was in could be soft, lovely, and nourishing was more than I could bear, and so I stood there and wept, for I didn’t want to love one more thing in my life, didn’t want one more thing that could make my heart break into a million little pieces at my feet. But all the same, there it was, and I could not do much about it; for even I could see that I was too young for real bitterness, real regret, real hard-heartedness.
You turned twenty-two in the rain.
We walked in rubber boots
along Lowther, the shiny street as albumen
At midnight, the sky suddenly clear
we drove your jazz-filled car
through cold, pungent streets to the lake
where we collected stones by flashlight.
The wind wrapped us in its torsions,
we couldn’t hear each other although we shouted,
wet with star-swallowing waves.
By morning the stones we’d found
were dull with air,
but I couldn’t forget the smell
of the trees’ intimate darkness
the scattered sound of the rain’s distracted hands,
husks of buds in green pools on the sidewalks.
To love one person above all others
is despair, you said, turning twenty-two.
Propaganda of the senses, the narrow-minded heart.
We are magnets, averted
by our sameness.
Above the corrugated, elastic lake
the darkening sky holds out its arms.
A thousand miles away, you’re turning twenty-three
I repeat your name, each time different
into sand, into moonlight.
Far off, the lake crumbles at its edges,
the sky holds out its arms.