Learning of your death on a gray day in January
(for CR, in memoriam)
It was later,
later than it seemed, that last time I saw you, that last Sunday
in April, beginning of daylight time, back when daylight time
started then, the hour shift forcing light to shine
in angles strange and awkward, everything off-kilter--
you were naked on the couch, had been sleeping,
the sun, strong, drowned you in its beams, a ratty blanket fell
from your shoulders. You’d just yelled at me to come in
after I’d knocked at the front door,
and I was there--
to return a book, an LP, to borrow something?
Not for sex. That had long since ended (though maybe
I was still hoping.) You reached for your jeans,
went to get whatever it was.
And I’m thinking about that sun now, how it flooded the room,
lit dust spinning in the air, spotlighted the coffee table—
the silent TV set in front, stacks of yellowed newspapers
in the corners, stains on the sofa. I remember wondering what
the hell was I there for anyway? What was I looking for?
And now with this news I am looking to find you still,
Googling your name, searching legacy.com and Facebook,
exhuming profiles of friends of friends, people
I haven’t thought about for thirty years, those I knew
but not too much, some who had seen some trouble,
some who had been strung out or served time. Here they are, gazing
from photos with partners and kids and guitars and gardens,
older and wrinkled, but here, more or less settled,
looking more or less healthy and content, and all
I can find of you is a grayed-out empty
profile with a whited-out outline of a face, only a handful
of “friends” listed, and I am wondering, why and how
did everyone survive and not you?
And I am thinking about that time—how
we all tried to act so cool back then,
pretending as if nothing really mattered when
everything did, the still-fresh scabs
picked at too soon, pink skin
underneath, tender, bleeding,
as we tried to find—
Enough. I’m not up for going there again.
And I’ve had it with this cold, gray, winter day.
Let me call back the light.
Let me look beyond the dust,
the stains, the newspapers.
Let me feel the heat,
notice again how the sun gleamed on your skin,
how it illuminated the contours of your hard, muscled body,
how it shimmered in your long blonde hair.
How it shimmered. How it shimmered your hair gold.
Sarah A. Rae’s publications include her chapbook, Someplace Else (dancing girl press, 2020), poems in On A Wednesday Night (UNO Press, 2019,) and work in Jet Fuel Review, Burlesque Press, Revista Blanco Y Negro, and Naugatuck River Review, among others. Her translations of poems by the Mexican poet Guadalupe Ángela may be found in Ezra, and in video format in Jill! A Woman+ in Translation Reading Series. A native of Champaign, Illinois, she lives in Chicago
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