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.