Saturday, April 20, 2013

Elegy for a One-Night Stand

Dawn Potter

What I remember about you
is that you were too good for me;
so it’s easy to recall, these decades since,
that I never believed that you would love me—

you, with your rich-boy clothes,
and the way you knew exactly what you were up to
when you let your palm slip down the small of my back.
But I think I’m right in recollecting we were happy

for the hour or two we borrowed that night,
and I want to claim that it was raining
and that the streetlight outside our grimy window
filtered a shimmer edge along your shoulders,

that your fingers read the bones of my face
as if they really did long to imagine what I longed for.
Now, after twenty years spent forgetting
anything we’d once learned about the other,

I begin to summon up the urgency that lured us there,
to someone else’s street-lit bed, a room,
you claim, that glowed a baby-aspirin pink,
a shade I can’t recall, though I think

I may have memorized your shadow-tilted head,
cocked as if to warn me: don’t believe a word he says.
Don’t fret. I didn’t.
You never broke my heart; I grant you that achievement,

not easy to accomplish with a china heart like mine,
so liable to be chipped. You tell me now,
you throw yourself too much into your men.
Well, yes.

But what’s the point of love that doesn’t shatter?
It’s the vice I’ve clung to; I never do get over anyone—
even you, my not-heartbreaker,
with the softest lips I’ve ever kissed, and then

that quickened breath against my throat,
those tender hands,
as weighted and exact as birds, and how my eyes
forgot their blue and, startled, turned to yours.

[forthcoming in Same Old Story (CavanKerry Press, 2014)]

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