The second half of the story is boy loses girl.
Late summer comes in with its desiccated grass
and the sabbat of small birds amassed
voracious on his lawn, gone in a brown blink
when his arm moves to the bedside stand for water.
An hour gets lost with the paper, fumbling
the combination lock of the date. It’s fine, he thinks,
it’s fine to see how all that’s possible betrays us,
how we’re promised the world is spontaneous
but wish for it only up to the point where
the russet linen bunched in our fingers is her skirt
and not the curtains drawn against the living,
the chilled orange at breakfast a semblance of her
ice cube-coldened tongue. He traces each day’s steps
across this map of ghostly contacts, tries to recall
the whispers of forbearance sloughing from
their bodies like the hiss of that violet ribbon
he’d pulled to release her black mass of hair,
the liquid thrill of it breaking over her shoulders.
The ribbon he finds later, disassembling their bed
his last day in the house, wearing a skin of dust like years’
accumulated doubts. It’s good, he says aloud, then,
to no one, to have known; to be held a time, to be undone.
Stephen Lackaye has his MSc from the University of Edinburgh, and his MFA from the Johns Hopkins University. Other poems can be found in Cave Wall, Crab Orchard Review, The Normal School, The Pinch, RHINO, and Waccamaw. He lives in Beaverton, OR, where he works for Powell’s Books, and teaches online for Northeastern University.