Shoulders

It’s curious, the things I remember about you. I saw a girl in the hallway with your salmon-colored sweatshirt, the off-the-shoulder kind that reminded me of the ’80s. The girl smiled at me as we passed each other. I smiled back. We don’t know each other’s names, but that’s how things are. I remembered your shoulders and how you used to complain about them. Too broad, you would say. But I liked them; I always liked them. I tried to remember your face, smiling at me, but I couldn’t.

All I could remember were your sweaters and your shoulders,
and how you couldn’t stand them.
Sometimes, sweaters will show off your shoulders.
And maybe you liked that, after all.

Arthur’s Seat, with two views

The sun was already setting over a sea
I had never seen before. I stepped between
semi-jagged stones that peppered the summit
until I reached that white stone—dirty, weathered,
and sat next to it, studying the marks
others had left in its sides. It looked nothing
like a throne, I thought, but there it was,
and here I was. I traced my finger
around the top of it—a cold, wide circle.
I let the wind whip across my face as I watched
the burning crimson descend over
opposite shades of earth.

I turned back to look at the grassy field below,
where other travelers had arranged some rocks
in the shape of a heart. “M+H,” said other stones,
right in the middle of the thing.
I paused for a moment, and
looked down at a pair of rough hands.
I hated that even now, in a place so far away,
all I could think of was how there was no “M+H”
for me. Not anymore.

I stepped down from that throne room,
the summit of that place, and descended downward.
I stopped after a moment.
Reaching down, toward this earth
I might never see again, I felt
the cold, stubborn hardness of it
against my fingertips. We were the same, I think,
and that still, fiery blaze of the water echoed
through my mind like it was the last thing
I would ever see.

Under an umbrella, sometime in July

We’ll always have that morning on the River Cam
where we watched a fire burn in the rain.
How I wish we could have seen
how not unlike that fire we would be, and how,
like all things, even the fire on the Olympic torch
before us must go out eventually—
that harsh reality that we refuse to admit,
even as we blind ourselves with blissful moments
that make us forget the promised, smoky darkness
after the flames have been extinguished.
Looking back, even now, I can only recall
how sweet it was to watch that fire, that golden torch,
resisting the elements with its man-made splendor,
carried proudly by a man holding it to the heavens.
That was us, I think. That would be us,
a flickering light punting calmly along,
real, though temporal. But, even still,
we’ll always have that morning on the River Cam
where we watched a fire burn in the rain.

Aquarius

Let’s be like those little plastic stars
that decorate the ceilings of children’s rooms,
that glow, dimly, in arbitrary cosmos,
and shine, not brightly, but enough.

So, I think, all we really need is to stay,
to glow faintly in the darkness of that room,
enough for each other—enough to remind us
that we’re there, alive, even at our dimmest.

Dry summer

Sometimes, when there are fires,
I think of war and cigarettes.
I think of billowing clouds
of smoke rising to the heavens,
silent, and benevolent.
I wonder how many houses—
filled with old photos, curtains, bed sheets—
have turned into oceans of ash.

Sometimes, when there are fires,
I think of how your house
almost burned down that summer.
The hillside burned obsidian
like the lungs of those not understanding
that, sometimes, there are wars.
Sometimes, there are fires,
and that, always, there will be smoke,
and scorched earth beneath their feet.