Old Man

by Lucille Lang Day

For Bill

Old man, gaunt, with scraggly gray hair
and cancer of the spine, greeting me
from your deathbed, what binds us now is
the past—the night when you were seventeen
and I was drunk and you pulled me away
from the boys who would abuse me.

We locked ourselves in a bedroom and kissed.
You said you wouldn’t hurt me, and didn’t,
your hair thick and black on the pillow. There
was that, and the day we rented bicycles
on Stanyan Street and rode them through
Golden Gate Park, all the way to the sea,

and the day we drove through the mountains
and stopped to ski, which neither of us
had ever done before. Take my hand. Let’s
remember the sun beating on slushy snow
and how you skied all the way down
the intermediate slope without falling.

I don’t believe in your death or mine,
but in colors and sky, all the possibilities
reflected in your hazel eyes, which glittered
like emeralds the night we danced naked.

 

Lucille Lang Day (http://lucillelangday.com) has published eight poetry collections and chapbooks, including The Curvature of Blue, Infinities, and The Book of Answers. Her first poetry collection, Self-Portrait with Hand Microscope, was selected by Robert Pinsky for the Joseph Henry Jackson Award, and her chapbook Dreaming of Sunflowers: Museum Poems won the 2014 Blue Light Poetry Prize and Chapbook Contest and will be published in 2015. She is also the author of a memoir, Married at Fourteen: A True Story, which received a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award and was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award in Creative Nonfiction.

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