Poetry

Phosphorescence

Monday, May 4, 2009

Let me pound out this love poem finally, ground
from muddy afternoons and crooked teeth chipped
in lopsided games, with long lines for cold showers,
no gracious mist on the dark grass. This was
high school athletics. It took the better part
of a season just to learn the defensive assignments,
while bouncy cheerleaders in letter sweaters leaped
easily on the sidelines. What meteors and planets
of worlds whirled beyond our reach.
We countered with quick lines that clicked
in the corridors, acts and wisecracks that lifted
us outside the lockers to 45s and plain pizzas,
knowing we had enough dimes and quarters
to press that song again and again. Never richer.

Parties Friday night—like driving miles at ninety,
astral rushes, acid sunsets, cases and cases
of beer: you and I saw Socrates smiling
in dusty miller, amused the dunes palm reading
our knees. And I loved seeing you again tonight, twelve
falls after that senior October some wild poet wrote
“I’m God,” in orange. You began what October begins
in me, but you were the one who loved me enough
to leave . . . when I said I was not anyone more
than you love me. You weren’t going to stick
sharp fingers through these pursed lips, down
this halting throat, and pull out, if it was there
one quiet gift I could name but not give.

We stood and watched the sun go down and called it
breaking up. We called that official who sat upon
his hobbyhorse of swollen mind, his purple tongue
pressed against my window, our detractor.
Words for everything! Months mad and monstrous
as Coach Gardner’s bulging nose. We won three
and lost seven that year, but once you and I shared
the entire Atlantic, remember hummed
the breath of the stars, enormous rocks sang bass
as we lay level with the moon, demanding nothing
but one more wave. It slid in over moonlit plankton.