Found and Lost
She was pasted firmly in the past,
a trivial footnote in a weather-beaten journal
gathering dust, unread on a high closet shelf,
a brief coupling that held sweet silk memories
between torrents of mood swings and accusations.
She wore jealousy and lace, foolishly believing
both might strengthen a shaky relationship.
It ended ugly, a paean to passion gone awry.
Today she found me, posted intentions to catch up
on a virtual wall, like unwanted graffiti, neon loud
and barely hiding the anger hiding behind the message.
It has been nearly two decades since our pairing.
Sure I smile now, remembering the time her leg
brushed sexily against me while not a soul
at the crowded table even suspected a thing,
how she brought lovely to a room like a wafting fragrance.
But she was temperamental, erratic, and
used to getting her way, spoiled in the way
that beauty affords certain privileges.
The hammer of online silence strikes hard.
I delete the posting, overriding a risk in curiosity
because between the lines is where the games are played,
and while I can hear her imagined vociferous denial,
it’s obvious that who she is has not changed.
The Dispassionate Punishment
The Virgin wears a flattering low-necked
form-fitting neon red garment that clings tightly
and flatters her very bounteous natural gifts.
Her halo rests firmly in place, as the painting
on the wall, its love triangle’s participants
closing their eyes in passion’s embrace,
are unable to see her hand raised to chastise
her godly charge, prone in her lap,
flailing somewhat, awaiting the blow.
She hides half in shadow, staring off in thoughts
entirely unrelated to the important task at hand.
Everyone acknowledges the blessings
of the feted miracle birth,
but none dare appreciate
the politic discipline necessary
in carefully raising another’s child.
I still smell the cut grass in her spacious backyard
that long summer day, the various booths and rides
set up to raise funds for some worthwhile cause
that escapes me. I was first in line to purchase tickets
that afforded access to that wet and wild slippery slide,
where her freckled shenanigans brought a giggling glow
to the proceedings, enticing me back again and again.
When she moved to the far booth, I followed.
While the hoop never landed in a way to earn me a prize,
being around her then was reward enough.
We never confessed what was felt,
settling for a sociable familiarity, shared laughter,
the silliness of happy unexpressed urges.
I would visit her older obnoxious brother,
though that often ended poorly—fistfights on the lawn.
These many decades later I confess to a silent world
how I stopped by merely to catch a glimpse, to share a smile,
to fuel my muted and misunderstood adolescent dreams.
I expect she found a healthy balance of career and family.
Now, in long nights of winter, I gaze heavenward
at celestial freckles blinking blankly
and ponder what is and what could have been,
ignoring lifetimes that have passed to stop and ask,
What’s a neighbor for?
Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, and teacher. Recent poems are published or forthcoming in Manor House Quarterly, Xenith, Corium Magazine, Petrichor Review, and Sparkbright.
Photo credit: talldude07, morguefile.com