You might find yourself here unexpectedly, with neither direction nor
intent. Say you are just passing through, no fixed address, and the less
you say about where you’re from the more at ease others seem to be.
Say your wife found the letter you had intended for the eyes of another,
or that other received the words intended for no one. Now you lie in the
in-between, locked out of that other part of yourself. Down the hall you
can hear coughing, muffled conversations from TV screens, the clack-
clacking of typewriter keys like tiny gunshots echoing. You lie in a bed
worn down by others, the desire of others, green-gray light from the
freeway below framing the edges of windows and doors. Sipping
lukewarm beer at three in the morning, you wonder where it all went;
and who or what it might be heading toward now.
The End of the Affair
She was too far gone to drive, but drove
just the same, as you did often in
those days, an hour past closing time, down
the smooth white shoulders of Summit Avenue
in winter, pale blue lights pulsing
from the spines and windows of stately houses,
and the dark formations of trees on
either side guarding what you could not know,
then or now; and on the radio a soul singer
long since departed from this world
pleading in the cracked tones
of the desperately young for his lover
not to go — and for that moment you were both
with him. Yet already your voices were becoming distant,
echoing in rooms not yet entered; already
your bodies had mapped their secret memories
beyond the reach of words, beyond
even the hardened inclinations of stars,
the chill-gray moon glinting like a splintered
coin on a night that would let you go
more easily than either of you could ever
About the poet: Greg Watson‘s poetry has appeared in numerous literary reviews, including The Seattle Review, Tulane Review, and Poetry East, as well as Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His most recent collections are Things You Will Never See Again and The Distance Between Two Hands, both published by March Street Press. A new book, Not Elsewhere, But Here, will be published later this year.
Don’t miss the related slideshow of visual art by Minnesota artists at the top of the page. Each work was handpicked specifically to accompany this poem.
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