happiest (a poem)

(3 comments)
December 22, 2003
I want to write about those times when I was happiest;
those times when good fortune seemed to alight on my shoulders
and the sky was smiling down on me with a grin the size of the world.


(When asked what had satisfied him most in life,
  Man Ray -- photographer, painter, sculptor, innovator --
  said "...I'd say women".

...I'll say women.)


High School summer nights;
heels over head for the German girl--
--my last simple love. Late nights outside
the home of her host family...
(Maybe I broke one heart to get there.
  Maybe not. In either case it was worth it.)
...leaning, pushed up against the cinder wall that
was still releasing the heat absorbed in the day.
standing, leaning, but legs splayed,
the German girl standing between them,
leaning in close herself.
Kissing, and kissing, and kissing, and kissing.

In a month I'll notice she stops closing her eyes
but now, this moment: I was happiest.


Years later. College.
That beautiful girl with the curly long dark hair.
So assured. Sitting in that white and black
director's chair. Her shirt off. Leaning back.
Those beautiful breasts. Knowing a dozen guys
on campus whose envy at that situation could
knock down the walls of that brave little dorm room.
Thinking that this time could be the time
it was going to work, was going to stay working.

Her leaning so far back, letting herself melt into that moment.

That cheap chair would break in minutes.
And that damn carousel of a romance would spin away
from me by midterms. But that moment: I was happiest.


Finally. Years after college.
A midwinter escape to the Jersey Shore with
you and some friends. (The Russian chick, and
her husband, but they're a different story)
Together the four of us had run away, just for
a short while, a break from the workaday life,
But more than that, I thought all the old cycles
had broken. The old patterns of finding and
loss washed away. I tasted some salt from the
ocean water. I wrote a heart and our initials
in the damp sand. My college drinking buddy
and I had found something more in each other
and I thought that was all there was to find.

It was a moment, a moment that held the end
of needing other moments: I was happiest.


Oh Darling.
Now, this moment.
You say that you're leaving.
Maybe I don't understand why.
Maybe I understand all too well.

Kundera wrote of poetic memory. That's what I inscribed
in his book that I gave to you: "to finding a place in
poetic memory". But I thought...I thought it would be
more about being poetry. Less about being a memory.

Aw Darling.
Maybe we'll each find more times, other moments.
Maybe I'll be happiest again.

I don't know and I can't know
but right now I miss you more than anything.