by Christopher Raley


I would have gone with him

but illness clutched me to bed,

so we hugged goodbye and now

I miss no one like I miss him.


Once I went that direction

long through the valley, skirting the bay,

crossing the mountains down into Monterey.

We walked along the row, gentle light


on the white buildings and dark cypress hills, kids

laughing, running, hiding on the bridge over the street,

pretending in the small stores to look at novelty items

so as not to get kicked out by managers.


Yes, I was his age once, and the wind

came cold off the water and we buttoned tight

our jeans jackets and huddled close together

against the concrete jetty waiting for the van to come.


While the sun disappeared

and the street lights rose

I was sure I would find a life

with wind and water and words.


But I did not know I was in

another man’s country.  I could

flirt with her as with his wife, but nothing.

We would conceive and have nothing.


Now I am alone in bed in a country

I tried to leave but had to claim, the long valley

I made love to with so many awkward

feints and poses until, slowly growing old,


it is just me and her and the words of our union.

A lofty goal, but a poor recompense for the young man

who has left my house, who one day will leave for good,

and there is no one I miss more than him.

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