When my first wife died I withered and withdrew
And lonely did I scale the couloir of grief
Curling about myself like that indolent snake
Confronting that first wife with cancer’s last claim
Just an overgrown garden snake parked upon our drive
A brown arm’s-spread length of languid reptilian still
A critter I’d never seen before or since that meeting
Curled into a taunt that he hurled at my own girl
Coiling tighter in delight: “The hour’s come for you!”
She died soon after when the siege broke through
And I never really heard the music until its absence
Of delight in all creation—that’s how her voice fulfilled
So what torched despair’s fingers until the grip gave out?
One night in Harpoon Henry’s I kissed a pretty woman
A nice, friendly girl I’d been working with for years
Mouth-to-soul resuscitation seasoning bloodless sleep
That kiss—alone, apart, about. A prelude to nothing
Except the entirety of life. A kiss. That’s it.
Interceding like prayer to caulk my brokenness
Did I ever tell that girl what that kiss delivered?
I now forget (surprise!) how she wriggled off the hook
Can’t even recall the name, just drops of smiling eyes
I am deaf, now. Blind. Can’t bend to tie my shoe
A salty wind-whipped spray gentles this old wheeze
Lets me taste that kiss once more and that is what I’ll ride
You may release your servant, Lord. It is time for me to die.