We weren’t to have had favorites, but of course
I did, failing when it came to the sweetest,
loopiest and weakest of the hundreds of
children at camp. What you had exactly
I don’t remember now. Do we ever really know
what draws us to the one? You were small, I know,
and good at sports. That this one game should matter,
even today, given all the million games,
can only mean it was played on some higher field
for a yet more golden cup bought
with deeper tears.
What this is to you now is nothing, I’m sure.
Your deed lasted the bus and the first ride home.
But I rode my life when I captured that flag –
it was my hope from a broken lost year –
and when the enemy charged it filled me with fear.
I stood on the edge, I looked to the air,
I searched for the fair, and there
I found you –
who took my life away from the crowd.
You spirited me wild like a deer.
When you crossed the line they lifted you up,
and with you they lifted up me.
Amazed we sang, losers winners all,
She’s answered the call, she’s conquered the beast –
Ellie, the littlest of all!
Then I saw my wrinkles for what they are.
This is me. This is my life.
These lines trace every smile I’ve ever smiled,
every worry, every precious hour spent in the sun.
I’ve earned them.
This is who I am.
I guess the idea there
was that if I met a student,
of the Princeton Theological Seminary,
I’d see you could be that
and whatever came after
(a minister, a priest?)
and still have sex
or get married or both
and maybe she was suggesting
one of those for us,
though I doubt it now.
Wayne was friendly enough.
I’d like to know what I asked him,
since I didn’t know why
I was meeting him.
Mostly I was just in love with a girl –
and tennis and gin,
and a quarter-cut lime mixed with
There are forgotten reasons why
you didn’t do what you didn’t do,
but now you’ve only what still
never existed – Technicolor scenes
and whiskey ads, gunboats in Esquire,
the Senator before his subcommittee,
the microphone, people clinging
to his every word.
From where you watch he’s far away,
mute lips on a screen as sunlight
climbs the outer wall. Soon there’ll be
nothing left to catch it. It will unravel
in cold dark corners of space.