The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Mel Belin


—who was always there for us

No seance for us, only this reading!
Enough come on a night in December⎯
your friends⎯six months after, still needing . . .
Celebrate your last book's launch, to remember.
Maybe what's done can't be un-. Still, it's as if
an energy to and from who's at the mic,
with feelings unexpected as ever riff
or revenant sensed: they play through us, take
off . . . .  From outside, a train shakes the bookstore
window, hurtles along the icy track
to crush with its accelerating roar
our elegiac. Yet still we're back,
sifting as it fades, for whatever ore
is in the words, and you there too, to fill our lack!


Shortly out of Pompeii
we're warned how we need to stay
together, that this excursion,
for only forty-five minutes, is to visit a store,
a really good one, after which⎯the sun is already
sinking⎯an immediate return to Rome.
When we're herded out of the bus,
you, who made a life of breaking
away, shake your head,
        knowingly, tug at me⎯
you, the Malaysian, who married
an American, moved from being a Buddhist
to Christian, to Jew . . . . "C'mon, let's get out of here"
you say, as I hesitate to try a different path . . . .
Have me walking, while the rest of the group is trapped
with assorted bric-brac, and leather ad nauseum,
almost chasing after,
   a few blocks, past a park, orange trees,
voices buzzing from the cafes filled, beyond which . . . .
And though your world has long since erupted,
Vesuvius-like, with its lava of tumors, chemo, horrific
suffering, choices, I'd like to think if ever I go
back, I could find that other you, not lost, but waiting,
as when I'd crossed the street to catch up,
laughing "what kept you?"
mocking gently my own cautions
there before cliffs and bay, spectacular, serendipitous . . .
that we'd stumbled on,
that after so many years, I carry with me still.

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