of these things, i wait

Where was I, where did I go?
Under docks toe-tracing sand,
waiting for the phone to stop caring.

I wait, and speak when asked.
and there are gaps when no questions come
so I shuffle around room to room.

My twenty-ninth Christmas came with no candles,
While strangers on checklists tear my paper
In yearly waltz of mandatory love.
At the place I have to call home.

There stood Main and Pritchard storefronts,
Rogers’ Clothing sidewalk sales in Junes,
In fall, I smelled fireplaces in the fog,
In winter, bouncing hope for canceling snow.

My city died too slow to see it.
One place closed up, we just waited for another.
Mostly one came and painted the old ironwork,
But mostly is sometimes-never, and so we faded.

Tall grass grows in summer, all on its own.
while thorn-bush grows, while steams change beds,
Small plywood bridges melted apart,
and the birches fell and grew and fell.

You chose me to hold your splinters,
we spoke until tongues cracked dry,
and drank vodka. Then I waited.

One time, you questioned me, I did not answer.
You asked, but I did not give.
You walked off, in halting steps.

Grow and go, grow and go,
Take Promethean sparks and start anew,
It’s best, this leaving me colder.

That catholic love eludes me
The John and Jane, rose and chocolate sort,
All that moonlight and dancing,
Rings and cake.

It’s mine to craft words,
To gauge eyelashes, to triangulate your hopes.
And shiver, and breath; after all
Chosen second is code for never chosen.

Mine to wonder
how the moment feels
and only hear news later,
to celebrate and mourn.

I know how to mourn.
To haunt alcoves, run fingers on windowpanes,
Feeling winter puff around
and watch the snow fall.

do you believe in
first sights and first sighs,
heartbreak and destiny slobbering through?

try to pinpoint the moment
stopwatch your life in quarter hours
journal the unslept history entire —

each there-and-then meets a maybe-not,
as love, as hope, as never-will all do

the Buddha calls it sin to love too much
and church demands it only upwards.

so wait a while, and sit here
though I have nothing to teach,

save that the wind will come later
flowing and disturbing the sands
which the water will smooth

to have no map, to have no direction,
no words, no path
that is to be.

so trace toe patterns in the sand
until the shine tells you stories
you already knew.