Long before I hang your picture
on the wall (the nail was rusty), before I drink
this wine we bought together on holiday, I will
hang up my heavy coat and my hope
at the door; write my name with yours in the leaves
of this book where it will not be forgotten.
I have already forgotten
the taste of your name on my lips. My picture
of you is fading. When it leaves
I will have only my reflection in this drink.
When you said my name it sounded like hope.
I write the formula: hope equals desire plus will.
You’ll do what you will
and you will have forgotten
the way we lay together and I traced out hope
and desire on your skin, a picture
of the ship named Future and christened with a drink
of champagne; but every ship leaves.
The only word that never leaves
is the one in this book. Will
you read it, nightly, alone with a drink
on the table beside you, forgotten
as you turn the pages, memorize each picture,
find my bookmark next to the woodcut titled Hope?
I have no more dreams, only hope
and a cold promise. Like you, the rest leaves
me staring at the picture
of myself in a dark window, waiting for the sun that will
undraw this image of me; I have forgotten
if you stood here too, waiting for rain to drink.
I would pour you through my fingers like sand, drink
your voice and fill my hollow spaces with hope.
It cannot be that I am forgotten,
one more shape drifted among the crisp leaves
of lonely autumn. You will
fly home; your shape will complete the picture.
If hope is the thing with feathers, then it can fly. It leaves
me in this forgotten room. When will you
return? A dry and solemn drink, your picture.
A widow’s walk is an architectural feature that was said to be a convenience for the wives of sailors, who could watch from these rooftop perches for their lovers to return. Wikipedia swears that ain’t so, but I love the legend better than Italianate architecture and it’s my poem, so there.