I wrote this back in college, but I was thinking of it recently when I was up north at my summer camp. The poem is about a boy with whom I shared one wonderful week– and after that, things fell apart. In college, this was my assessment of the situation (which, for the record, took like three years to heal from. One week, then three years. Boys.)
It appears to be about the temperature,
the way your body reacts to the sun,
how you kissed my hand and left.
You sang raw songs aloud, white flags
you spited for the sake of the sun,
a clumsy surrender to the afternoons,
later blaming the northern countryside for
the way it slows your blood,
allowing more time to warm.
And so you dressed your hurts in city shade,
where haste is the liquor to rinse your mind
of that summer and the way your hands were soft.
I left St. Paul and welcomed the day’s damage
because of the lessons that leak into open sores.
I make the most of my summer wounds.
But I want you to know—I would have helped you adjust:
dark faces shadowed by a background of pines,
only the moon with no warmth of its own.
Remember, dear, the northern nights are cold.