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"Winter Always Follows"

September 11, 2006


“winter always follows”

There’s a man painting the door
to my soul. It needs repairing,
or at least redressing. And I see,

scrawled on a napkin, slanted
prose inside the bathroom stall:
“Warning: this is broken. Handle

with care, or the cover may come
off!” I find humor in this sadness,
passing my reflection on the dingy wall.

I saw your baby sister walking
down my street today. She wore
the sweater, no expression, that ties

me (physically) to an afternoon on the
rocks of New England. You thought me
beautiful (as he does now. Do you still?)

in your sister’s sweater, with orange
sunlight making my teeth white, blue
water, moored boats, my jeans ripped

wide, until smoothly flowed my thigh,
framed in fabric, from which you became
unwilling to release me. Now, you look away

when I pass. Call a dog, laugh with
friends—too loudly, with too much gusto—
and I bury my face between scarf

and book of poetry. I await my newly

crowned king. He stoops to the
bench, and kisses me. I watch
–wearily—as the color drains from

your face, across the fountain.
It is a small drama, before I retreat
to the cool, damp trees, to remember

and repeat the thud of language
in my mind. The place where my
mentor was married is the same

place where I made my final stand,
told you that you were deceitful,
and had (in moments) treated me inhumanely,

and, that knowing all of this,
I sill loved you desperately. The place
where now a blonde girl, and

a brown boy hold each other,
listening to rustling leaves that will
fall away soon, and make the trees

bare, broken, beautiful—to sway,
ill-at-ease with their deathly lot,
knowing spring will come, with

new love. But in the memory of
their rings they keep my secret:
winter always follows, with its bereavement.

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