Your Public Spirit

You’d smoke, I’d sip scotch.
We’d watch the river darken
at our special bench

in the people’s park,
two old farts taking care of
the public-private

good. Now condos block
the river view, the special
bench a chain-link fence.

Now you too are gone.
I visit in memory
the places we loved,

your public spirit
communicates beyond the
fact of your death.

Your Way of Laughing

That Christmas in Rome
you lost yourself in the crowds,
enjoyed the creches,

the festive spirit
no object to your lack of
belief. I conclude:

however one sees
things, the unseen source of good
in the flesh is cause

for joy. Not that you
would have put it that way as
you broke out laughing.

Our Rome

Love makes a world of
perceptions. I saw you see
Rome for the first time

when I saw Rome through
your eyes. That’s how love works. Your
Eternal City

walled in honey light
is mine. Fountain to fountain
your Rome waters mine.

Moon

By the time we met
we were experienced, and
more experience

held no attraction.
So what was the attraction?
You couldn’t see that

well (I honor your
way of putting it). You loved
the way the moon shown

above your neighbor’s
roofline. You pointed it out
late one summer night.

Our Cat

Sometimes, not often,
the silence shared with the cat
goes “Tom,” and it sounds

just like you. I look
at the cat’s delicate lyre-
like ears: they do not

twitch. She does not look
up. I listen, envious
of her profound sleep.

White Nights

Your small rectangle
on Hope Street, Providence,
yellow in the dusk

I’d bring a CD —
Maria Bayo, star-bright
coloratura

For you, cooking and
sex were arts of memory
brought to perfection

in the moment. Now
I saute onions, tears
pricking those white nights

Dementia

My dear atheist,
these verses are my prayers
for you — and for me.

In my defense, I
say prayers are spoken in
the darkness of God.

You loved to say “God-
damn!” this and “Goddamn” that to-
ward the end (we have

no idea of end).
You said it with a half-smile.
I took it on trust.

Much later, the end
unspeakable, you said, clear
as a bell, “I’m bored!”

Going Out

At seventy, it’s
always evening
(C. Wright).
Such strong lines come to

mind now only to
flame out, per Paradiso,
generosity

of being being
the root of universal
justice. I bag her

cosmetics — lotions,
nail polish — for the bin. How
splendid she looked

as we left for the
evening, ornament and
order in her wake.

Haircut

Yes an argument
with myself, not that we had
no arguments, we

loved to argue, love
being an argument with
our nothingness. Now,

love, you reappear
to me and keep me honest.
Being as nothing

is all we share now.
Nothing to stop you, or me,
going our own ways.

Oh but it is hard,
even with a new haircut,
to face the living.

The Wood Spoon

You introduced me
to your narrow bed before
you let me join you

in the kitchen. You
knew the mysteries of both
to perfection, but

by the time we’d met
happy seriousness came
from the pots and pans,

the bitten wood spoon
that I hold now in hopeless
fond recognition.