I thought I’d see you at one
of the shows this summer. If so,
talk might have gone in a million
directions, and been awkward, as we’d likely
keep it small, complaining of the lineups
at the beer tent, then finding
a break in the crowd to slip away.
Talk was never our problem;
all those late-night think-tanks
after closing the bar, cooking up
subtleties on invented games,
rules to ‘Quick Drinks’
or ‘Etch-a-Sketch Portraits.’
Though most talk was art – what might
be good and where to find it –
while we watched the floor dry,
squashed in the booth
with the lights turned low.
I know you,
so was less and less surprised
when you sidestepped
issues people tried to raise,
and worse, twisted them
into betrayal by your stubborn,
bottled-up imagination. They
were trying to show they cared
even while you bulldozed into rooms,
grim as a defeated army.
Meanwhile, work is work,
late home, five hours sleep,
coffee, then a nap. You’ve missed
a birth or two, the filled and emptied diapers
of friends’ burping offspring,
and I’ve moved, so if you ever
picture me, I don’t know where.
Mostly, when I think of you, I see
you angry and mistaken.
Almost daily, I bike past
your old studio
and the re-rented house,
rooms where our unsuspecting ghosts
still drink and smoke, contra Yeats,
imperfect on every count.
From A Pretty Sight (2013) by David O'Meara