A LAPSE OF CONCENTRATION

A LAPSE OF CONCENTRATION

After we met, when we both

watched out for the other

(you were as sharp as a needle),

when we quietly moved on to “going out”,

I was drawn, most of all, by your

darting, quizzical eyes (swift as arrows)

and that slight furrow lying low in your

forehead (you said this was unremarkable,

I said maybe you should chill a little).

And now and then you’d sing a few bars (alto)

from tunes I didn’t know; I guessed that

you’d been born with them in your

lungs and throat, then a lifetime of practice,

now pitch perfect, as you knew.

 

And you were oh so pretty then –

how good it felt to be (seen) with you –

though you eschewed photographs,

saying (and how well you put it)

you’d never liked snapshots because

the snap was, for you, a bit like a slap

for showing off and the shot was, well,

a thing so dreadful you couldn’t start to say.

It took a while, each time, to leave the reasons

alone and to smile, properly, when we’d gone,

moved on (how I was won by those smiles).

 

Blind, really, is the word for what you made me,

blind to just about everything you said I

should do, no question, no thought even

as to whether my need was greater than

your greed (how hard it was to populate

inside my head and have someone, some thing

work it through). Common sense long gone,

any plan long lost, at who knows what cost,

at who knows whose cost (leaving my own

alone for a moment, still unwilling to accept there

is no going back, no welcome for the prodigal).

 

It all got out of hand, around a year down the road

(how I wish I’d stopped there, before slipping

deeper, deepest down). It was when you

made that one mistake, that careless moment,

when we both looked at the mirror – the big one in the hall –

and you faced me from the mirror (was this the only time,

was this really so rare, so utterly out of the ordinary?);

your right hand moved and was met by the exact movement

of your right hand in the mirror. Without thinking, I pushed

your left hand (now a fist) toward the mirror,  

now matched by your left fist swinging out.

 

You kicked the mirror, hard, and a low, dark groan,

now a gruff bass, escaped your insides and spilled

out into the air around us; and you moaned again,

your pain mixed with the scratching slide of glass

falling to the floor. You picked up a shard, razor-sharp,

and ran, who knows where; I followed still-scarlet drops

but you were gone, quite gone. Who knows why but

I wanted you to be round every corner. How pretty

was your smile! I have replaced the mirror glass

(it’s where I last saw you); I wait, humming those few bars

(I know I love you still; will you sing them with me?).

◄ THE MEANING OF BIRDSONG

SHARING THE SUN ►

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