Night

The path back home was not marked
so we studied the trees
and looked for signs of damage.
One of the tallest was stripped down
by beetles and stood like a blond nub
against the sky.
Somewhere in those trees
you kissed me
in the dark blue light.
Your hand on my bare stomach
your eyelashes against my cheek.
You smiled at me with perfectly
straight teeth and bit me
softly on my shoulder.
My young life opened then
onto the rest of the wide world.

So much swallowed up to watch you years later,
your back leaning over the bow of a boat
twisting a rope around a cleat,
the moons of your fingernails bright
against your tanned hands,
the golden hairs along your jawline,
a wisp of hair falling from behind your ear.
You were never mine
to hold or to keep.
I only dreamed that kiss
though you promise me it was real.
So much added to that moment
because I needed it to be so.
To believe that it tied us to one another,
tethered like the boats that cling and bang
against one another in the harbor,
floating and free
despite their anchors, their masters.

A fire on the beach, the house in sight,
its windows lit up like a jack o lantern.
To throw all of this love that will never be known
into the pit so that it may go in peace.

I have tried to burn you from my heart but you would not go.

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All works © 2017, Shelley Hesse. All Rights Reserved.