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  • May, our senior year,
    a last night together
    before separate crossings.
    Cruising the sticky St. Louis night
    in Stuart’s family wagon.
    6 of us shoulder to shoulder.
    Paul turns to me,
    earnest,
    desperate,
    I’m a Texas redneck football jock, he says,
    and you’re a fucking hippy.
    But I love you man.
    Toking, passing the scrappy joint.
    Brushing ashes and embers from lap to lap.
    Stop at a red light somewhere down on Delmar
    Kathy’s powder blue Chevy pulls up alongside
    The ladies, says Stu
    And slouches, cool, one hand draped easy on the wheel
    Isn’t that Claire, says Oscar
    And just like that
    I’m gone

    The others are too wasted to notice
    and Paul's riding a serious testosterone rush
    but Oscar sees.
    Don’t go there man, he says.
    Come on back brother.
    But I got my forehead to the glass
    and I could be 4 or 6 or 8,
    not eighteen anymore.
    Forehead to the glass
    outside looking in
    inside looking out.


    Another season.
    Another crossing.
    23 now.

    Trip ashore for groceries and the mail.
    No letters today.
    All the fleet on their moorings
    pointing north
    into the wind
    me going south
    just me, heading south
    out of the harbour
    off and away again,
    open skiff on the open sea.

    Early winter grey pressing down over
    harsh and sullen seas
    stirred by a heavy, restless wind.
    Running alone to the island.

    Got my back to America
    and the lights of town all dim behind.
    The wind smells of snow and emptiness.
    I shift my hands on the wheel
    shivering.

    Walking up the hill
    past the shuttered houses in the old village
    the wind like a knife now
    picking at dried grass and branch and stone as it passes.
    Hands wet from the mooring rope
    and aching like fire
    stiff and clawlike
    and aching.
    Like a knife slash.
    Like missing you.
    Like my forehead pressed against the glass
    outside looking in
    inside looking out.

    Inside the house
    out of the wind.
    Alone in a stunning silence,
    my hands shake
    as I lay a fire in the cold stove.
    Strike a match.
    Strike another.
    Watch the miracle of flame amidst the kindling sticks and curled birch bark.
    This is as cold as it will be,
    I tell myself.
    And take comfort
    knowing I am inside
    out of the wind.
    There in the house at the top of the hill
    the last house in America before the open sea.
    Inside.
    Looking out.
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