4/9/81: Mobile, Alabama
Stephen Gardner

I guess these rooms have made their peace with age,
Wind, and water. And now they lend their guests
Their ante﷓bellum calm, and bring them sleep.
Sometimes I think I can hear the others dream
Or see the angels of their lusts and fears
Shine with truth outside the faces they wear
At meals. But some still wear their truth like silk.
Last night at Mannie's Jetty a man named Saul
Played blues until today. When his wife left
I hurt, I missed her too, I sang with him.
Later, I turned down rides, more drinks, and taxis
And walked the mile or so back here, watching
Lights go out like eyes closing along the Gulf.
That's another kind of peace. I remembered
The night my mother called to bring me home.
His heart, she said, he might not last the night.
I saw the small waves move toward me and thought
How much difference a breakwater makes.
He smiled at me, a mess of tubes and tape,
And made a husky sound. I touched his hand,
The skin like wood, already dead. Miles away,
A boat turned east to Florida. So he lives
In my dreams now, and in the TV's eye,
That other he, like me, a runaway,
A seaside light, a ship--all vanished
Like a gull into a sky without clouds.
Originally published in The Devil's Millhopper
and This Book Is For Eva (Palanquin Press)

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