Having Not Heard Back from You

By Kenneth Hart

Featured Image: The Print Collector by Honoré-Victorin Daumier

I suspect you must be dead.

If you are reading this,
then you are not dead—

after I chose the wine,
and teased the waiter for spilling a little on my good shirt;

after the appetizers arrived,
and I told the joke about the priest and the porcupine

which made you spit a fleck of calamari from your beautiful mouth
across the white tablecloth;

after I revealed the secret, because your smile gave me permission,
that I love the new movie everyone thinks is bad;

after I lowered my eyes and put down my fork
when you said they couldn’t stop the hemorrhage in your father’s brain;

after I paid the bill,
walked you back to your apartment

and didn’t try to kiss you,
left you laughing as the doorman greeted you;

and turned to walk alone the midnight streets
with the light of the world sloshing in my chest,

and my skin feeling like the sunrise
on the first day of vacation.

Having not heard back from you,
I suspect you must be dead.

If you are reading this,
you are dead to me.

Kenneth Hart teaches writing at New York University, and serves as Poetry Editor for The Florida Review. His poems have recently been published in Gulf Coast, Green Mountains Review, and elsewhere. Hart’s book, Uh Oh Time, was selected by Mark Jarman as winner of the 2007 Anhinga Prize for Poetry.

Originally appeared in NOR 4

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