Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
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Bourbon in a Cup

Today, alone, I feel the ease of sinking in a dream.
Boathouse ivy hung in your hair, roping us close,
as I settled with you, love, in wet grass, slick
and cold like the top of the Hatteras yacht where,
trespassers in stars once, we had been diving,
then making love, and then came night crawl
of lights with friends, that house party, a marsh
by Back River, traffic along Victory Boulevard.
Voices on the patio doubted our future forty
years ago, near the Air Force base. Now-dead,
their babies unborn, or asleep, married, joking.
Steaks sizzled on the cooker, sweat on beer cans.
My cup, lit like a small universe, kept pulsing.
Be still, you said, your dress rolled, yellow wasps
like tiny angels hanging on it. You grinned, held
your breath, waiting. I felt you alive at my shirt.

If we are dead now, walking naked in heaven,
where our friends stand to tease and whoop at us,
I’ll say our marks are the bites of those insects
we learned to carry, not recoiling, but enduring.
Say nothing of the nights we did not touch, hours
we abandoned love. I smell mowed-over onions
in that grass, the sweat mixed with swamp-salt,
colognes, cigarettes, meat charring, flood tide.
If they ask what we did by the boats, we’ll say
we smoked, we swam among them, we ran away
and married—we signed, we paid, we were alive.
In my dream you enclosed me again, old words
fumed between us like mists of gnats, the unseen
not digging at my skin, not biting, but wanting in.
They will know us as we are, you said. Yes, love.
Weeds in our mouths. Ivy in hair. Bourbon in a cup.  end

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