He’s sketching the water tower,
my hands, the parking lot of IGA.
The leather binding is coming loose.
The carts are scattered and the flood lights
are on, the northern sky held down
in amber, held down in dusk.
We wait for the snow to come, for the
headlights to follow other headlights--
for the erosion of rooftops and cement.
“I need a new way to understand the
passing streetcars,” he says, “and to stop
you right there, standing still, alone.”
It’s all that remains of the weekends--
the trips to the reservation, to the port.
We had everything at once.
I took photographs of Boldt Castle,
his face pressed to the window,
climbing stairs in the garden.
He’d follow the stone path and take
my hand, take the side street to find
the swimming pools and grand pianos.
It is the unknown of the lakeshore
and he is the spark that fades,
the way he doesn’t look at me anymore.
It’s me, It’s us, it’s everything.
Nothing is perfect and you don’t
He gasps and I hold ground, the waves
coming up to my knees now.
This is how it’s supposed to feel.
He’s painting me with the window shades drawn, my profile decomposing.
He painted stars on the ceiling, once, and told me to close my eyes.
“Imagine yourself underwater. You’re tired, is all.”
“Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under
heaven really matters? And how long, at the best, can it last?”
- James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
In the morning, you find yourself
kissing the artist, holding form--
the boy beside you caught in light.
You understand the axiom, the equality,
the pages of the novel written before dawn.
“Confusion is transparent and
there is no significance in beauty,”
says the critic to the world,
but nobody listens. His voice is too soft
and they say he feels too much.
You call yourself the architect,
the navigator, but perception is relative
and you remember this while walking home.
He takes your hand and you let him,
the footsteps following in time.
To the west bank, to the underground,
to the ledges underneath the bridge,
you wade into the water
waiting for your life to change,
and for the current to make it last.
Kevin Bertolero studies English Literature, Philosophy, and Art History at Potsdam College. He is the poetry editor for Mixtape Methodology, senior editor of North Country Literary Magazine, and is the founding editor of Ghost City Press. He tweets @KevinBertolero.