The Unmet Lover
Once I saw you in a freight elevator
and you turned away, pretending to be absorbed
in Diamond Fashion. Once I woke in Chelsea
and you were beside me, naked, breathing lightly,
but I had no memory of climbing the hundred steps.
Once you touched my shoulder, in a crowd
at a Knicks game-–Kobe at the charity line,
the box seats beginning to bay, full throated.
I flinched and tried to read your lips.
Sometimes you opened my mail. You borrowed my keys.
You carved my name in the great circle of elms
that guards the dead lake in Prospect Park
and added marks that meant: hypocrite. Shame.
Always I stared, in absolute darkness,
sensed your presence and called your name
and that was who you were: that shape of the lips,
that breath, late summer in a huge city,
those factories making mufflers and phone books,
those dusty storefront churches, that wheezing organ,
that drumbeat, that tambourine shivering with praise.