The twinkle lights from 2014 still wither in the trees.
They decay like creepers: red, blue, yellow, green.
You must have taken the ladder, but
we both know I would rather let them rot
frozen to the snapping point in February
melting through July
dark in December.
When you left us
two month’s rent to beg or forage,
I supposed there wouldn’t be Christmas.
Funny how strangers chip in
when it’s too far gone to stop the blood loss.
They drop fire trucks, dolls, and new red winter coats
plates of gingerbread, tins of fudge. They say
Merry Christmas, we thought of you,
give you sidearm hugs and sideways looks,
pat the children and drive away in Subarus.
If you had stumbled across the icy porch
hanged your coat on its hook by the door
set your feet on the forced-air vent
and asked for beer,
I would have forgiven you then.
You were wise to hide in your motels all this while,
past forgiving and goodnight kisses
past my new job at the shelter
past the first time Denny bloodied another boy’s nose
past the grey-lit hospital nights with Gwen, breathing quick.
Now you’re something made of radio waves.
You’re the last fog before the spring begins.
You blew away and took your judgment on the ride.
I have nothing left to give you but a thought
and I think maybe, if we met
in the chilled commuter station,
I might mistake an innocent stranger in your eyes
and nod hello.
© Rebecca Kerr, 2016
Public Domain Photo