Before I Go
Let me begin again.
.. . . . . .I want to be holy.
.. . . . . .— Terrance Hayes
Gentle me tonight, dear moon.
Let’s sit on this late
summer porch with the stranger.
We’ll open secrets, intimacies
of the heart. Like the childhood impotence
at the stoning of a turtle. DJ wanted
to see the color of its blood. Blow after blow
on his mottled shell. I swear, I heard the poor
thing whimper. And I didn’t even whisper. Stop.
The grad school date with Susan . Her peach-colored sundress
and MFA. The Pat Metheny concert. The walk to her black Honda.
The kiss she silently offered. The fear of overstepping.
My tongue muted, and me closed-mouthed again. There was no
second date or a son with her eyes, a daughter with my nose.
No tiny fist holding my finger. No aisle walks in June.
In this summer cool, maybe we shouldn’t ponder
possibilities that weren’t fleshed, joys that were never
unwrapped, loves not pursued. We only have this moment.
While we are here, let’s dream a little music. You strum
your moon guitar; I’ll play my sax in a minor key.
We’ll listen to the rhythm of my slowing heart.
Yet deep into this porch night, there is still
a wish, a final lyric: to have been a decent father,
a joyous lover, a bodhisattva on the road.
by Le Hinton, forthcoming in Elegies for an Empire
Editor’s Note: Regret is a poison that this poem portrays all too well with short, staccato sentences and careful line breaks. However, as the poem relaxes into the imagery, the sentences lengthen and stretch into joy—an welcome admonishment to the reader.