Front steps of West Street 1975.
Evening, satin hue, soft as feathers
on a Muscovy duck’s back, firm beneath
the fingers; set like the keys of a piano -
their musical intent ready for flight.
The stars fell like crisp leaves into my thoughts,
became words - I told the truth, shattered
the friendship. It had been flickering anyway,
a Passover candle in an old, cold church.
I opened the refrigerator door, let the light show
the cold meat wrapped in teenage fear
waiting for your hand to tear aside the plastic, thump
life into the pause before first time sex..
Sometimes a cigarette desires to be placed next to the skin.
The pain and recognition between substances
that should never meet and do far too often
for anyone’s good - none of us get all that we want
Cars raced in the distance - the local pizza parlour
did a wonderful business catering to the empty homelands
and muddied waters otherwise known as stomachs. We sat
on concrete steps – I knew my mother was not asleep
her hot feet grown into maternal alarm clock.
She prowled my nighttimes - a panther padding down hallway
and kitchen, switching on lights at the worst possible moment –
her eyes wide as scenes shattered motherly expectation
and a catholic blanket that tried to cover everything.
I leant close and inhaled your dismissal; the mood
clung to the curls of red hair that shimmered like a sheet
in the faint light from the street, covered your neck
except for the exposure of the thin bone of shoulder.
My right hand slipped inside your red shirt
and felt your small breast and nipple. You turned
aside, removed the offender, stood -
the taxi, a city comet, arrived, blew
the horn to ruin everyone’s night.
Your smile at that moment hurt
worse than a sledgehammer to the big toe.
As the taxi light sailed into the future I leant
all my weight upon the wire gate; hoped
the old hinges would burst to match the profusion
of blood that leaked inside my chest.
Mother turned the outside light on. I heard the crinkle
of the venetian blinds, left the moment lying there
like a car-hit cat. Went to bed to dream, knowing
everything would wait until the morning –