God knows I’ve tried, but it didn’t work;
nothing’s changed: I’m with you still
after all this time — unestranged,
my senses are immune to amnesia.
Five years, and I am back at the beginning
what are you reading,
your almost-embarrassed voice,
had taken us from under the dappled oak
through the orange dusk
to this corner bar.
The owner with the bulging vein and tattooed neck
asks (again) about the English bloke with the
languid graces and the easy smile.
You had him drugged, he winks,
and turns to make me a drink
the way you’d told him to.
No, it’s taken, I say to the man
about to take your stool,
then place your book where you did
without, though, the furtive note
slipped inside the cover I’d scribbled.
We had sat there all night,
with the live band behind us,
shuffling napkins of written lines.
And looks. You moved close, even closer,
tucking my hair behind the ear, smelling my temple,
your coarse chin brushed my cheek. Restraining. Until
morning came, and brought the Auckland flight.
When I step out of here tonight
I shall leave my book on the counter
as you did yours — a pretext, you’d said
— so that I may burst back in, and find you here.
Arresting. Suffocating me. And alive.