Poems March 2002
An ordinary afternoon in New Haven
It was Valentine’s Day, a blind date,
and on the sidewalk, angry since I was late,
she sat astride the leather suitcase,
chainsmoking, frowning, wearing a lace
camisole, her blonde hair tied in a band.
I gave her my hand.
There followed the dizzy abbreviated spring
we were in love, flattering
our nervous unhardened animal
natures, knowing more the rise than fall
of love, or what we named love, having no better word.
Virgins are of course absurd,
say those who have forgotten the rest,
the French curve of a teenage breast
and all the destruction that follows, in bed.
Blossoms marked the spring of the dead,
the war stalled in the jungles of Vietnam,
the arrowy flights of SAM
missiles through the newspaper half-tone,
and, each night, her throaty voice on the phone.
Then she was gone, pregnant, to another life
from which she called years later, wife,
mother, unhappy in her tract house, wanting
something that could be no more than haunting.
What if we had exchanged rings,
bought station wagon, barbeque, a hundred things
for that life she knew the blueprint of
in the dull, resistant suburb of love?
How soon would I have packed to go?
I think of her sometimes. I don’t know.
A Message from the Editors
Support our crucial work and join us in strengthening the bonds of civilization.
Your donation sustains our efforts to inspire joyous rediscoveries.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 20 Number 7, on page 36
Copyright © 2023 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com