summer’s slow retreat

I

that final summer

we spent our nights on the pier, the moonlight

bathing the water with its cool hands. night sounds,

frogs humming and burping, crickets, and water

slapping rocks serenading us.

long hours lost in eternal

embrace, caresses without end, daylight

hours, too, passed

in hide-and-seek cornfields.

ski trips and trains

marked our passing. long drives

were our companion,

after hour coffee shops our friend.

II

it was our times

spent past the old mill

I miss most. the water wheel spinning

much like us

as we rolled

down the hill, locked

in each other’s arms. sitting

on the old stone bridge

dangling our bare feet

in cool water,

life as bright as the face of God.

III

then there were the dark days, days

when you were ill,

too weak to walk, move,

smile for even me. my tears

salted your skin.

A cadaver still breathing:

Skin pulled tight across your bones, gaunt, your ribs protruding like a witch’s clutched fingers

Your eyes sunken into your skull, clouded with pain, a Vesuvius eruption

Your once strong arms, limp, tree limbs fallen under ashen snow

A cadaver still breathing, labored and heaving until—

And to mourn? Selfishness for myself; the pain

you have been saved—the agony of existence

you have been freed from the snare of barbed wire

in your lungs, and the red on white

of frothy blood expelled from your lungs after your last breath…I still kissed

your lips

goodbye

my existence is stitched with torn fragments of you

my life burns with your memory

I warm myself here

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