Downtown III

Mike Chinooga finds me
through my sister. He says
we’ve got a reservation
in an hour, in Wellesley.

I chew the ice from my Scotch.
His crow’s feet are deep.

He traces his meal.
He hasn’t been back
since high school: lived in Chicago
a few years, sailed down California
for cash, relationships flashing
open and shut. He had a liquor business
that spilled down his chest; nine months steering
the supply trucks, and a sweet tooth still
for meth. But he’s married, finally,
with a girl, due in June.
A nice little house, out in Harvard.

I think if I asked, he’d still swing
a plastic sword, call himself
Mikeness the Proud, and we could fall
into our little bodies
right outside,
in the parking lot behind the bank.

Cambridge is the only place
I’ve lasted. I guess I never wanted to move
far, in case Alice came back.
After that night
on the Fiske baseball diamond, the world
hushing, collapsing…

He lands a surprise on my arm
that’s likely to bruise.

She skipped graduation
and the parties, and was gone
to Juliard or somewhere I couldn’t afford
to follow.
Relationships flashed open
and shut. A few poets, an architect
with a penchant for high-rises,
even a bus driver who understood
the uncertainty of wooden places,
but no one who sang
like hunting, like riding an animal
into the ground…

I realize then I haven’t been speaking.

I realize then I am in Mike’s car.
I don’t know when I stopped speaking.

I realize I am on my front steps, nodding.
Mike is a smiling figure
in the passenger window, pointing
at the door.

My key spins in the lock
like an old friend, an old story
I didn’t realize
I was telling.

Added: February 17, 2012 | Last changed: May 11, 2014