Tinsel Rose


You fly back to me in this firefly June,
on a night as moist as water in a childhood glass,
a chalice smooth and tall and silver-lipped,
your moistened finger looping that broad ringing O.
It’s so dark we’re flat silhouettes against the screen
like the shadow-puppets Grandpa made at bedtime.
This is our heaven, this uncertainty, this
touching to be sure that everything is right,
that we’re once more swimming side-by-side.
Angelfish hands, fin-feather touch, silver salmon leap of mind,
bright as the fish of wisdom, your soul swimming naked in night.
You’re diving deep in the well for the silver ring,
luminous in the darkness. I gasp as you rise within me.
A parlor trick, but your magic is real.
My quick breath is a spark rushing wild in the darkness—
this sudden flare of hope, a ring of fire
feeding on a future that I’d thought charred to a crisp
with your letters when you left the first time.
Burning bright blue with memory, it purges this new present
clean to the bone, till, nestled in the ashes, all that’s left
is a rose-carved stainless steel ring you gave me our first summer:
the glittering heart of our past, revealed and whole—
like a shining tin heart and a tinsel rose black as coal.


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