Don’t be alarmed. I come unarmed,
or, at least, undrawn. No claws, no
bombs, no mobs, I promise. Odd,
how I’ve forgotten, this soft fog
clotting my brain. Gone, the long
reign of hate, the tight rein of terror,
gone, the arid air laced with mace.
I’d wager you wish to live in peace,
to wake at night to silence, no guns,
no thunder, flame and plunder, just
a cadence of rain, each drop erasing
failure’s stale taste. and I’d bet
my name dismays you greatly, so
let me state my case. To be plain,
I miss you, I know it sounds inane.
Your stagey ways, your feinting,
the shameless parlor games. Tell me,
are shards still shaken into your eyes,
your hair as dark as starlings? Are you
still arch, charming, artful, on guard?
Ardent, jarring, sparring with the stars?
Tell me, how does your garden grow?
You know, it wasn’t all hell, swelter,
swelling, trembling, the shells pelting,
our tents. Welts, welter, wreckage,
the stench of fly-specked flesh. Hell,
some nights the sky held only bells,
the dells welled with light, my head
bent to the fire where you knelt, deftly
dealt the deck, fortune-telling, sending
velvet spells. Do I digress? I guess
I meant to say a blessing, pay a debt,
but my tongue is heavy as felt. Listen,
I am climbing memory’s slippery rungs.
Listen, my hands are cold. Oh, I know
it is over, stilled. Still, you filled my lungs
with summer. The town was one tunnel
of green. And I was still a girl, twirling
in the trees, my body softened by August,
my heart humming, a field full of bees.
Love, it is a little lonely without you.
I sit on the porch swing and whistle,
but stillness still stings. Love, I loved
your stories. Above all other things.
– Sarah Murphy