There’s a certain cruelty in her inability to remember,
a carelessness in confessing her inattention for dates,
details, and the memories I thought we shared.
How about that cloudy night when we sat in the darkened car
not far from the nursing college and the furtive train tracks
to discuss her Florida vacation, that long week apart?
Or the time in the library carrel, back behind the stacks
when I made fun of that silly accordion player
before managing to steal a very intimate kiss?
Her vague recollections do not match up with any
of the vivid ones I relate, and suddenly I feel abandoned,
just another melting cube at the bottom of a glass.
Our lives have traveled so far from those simpler days
that the idea of blame is a baseless rash occupation,
one better diverted by a pretty smile preserved.
We were lightning bugs, living for the brief season,
easily caught up in the glass jars of our youthful hopes,
feeling as though that glow might last forever.
Seeing her in this place, attendants hovering nearby,
tempers such nascent illusions through a pragmatic filter,
startling and sad, yet perhaps inevitable too.
This former whirlwind, a once gorgeous windmill
now generates a few weak passes, generating little
in terms of momentum, a small breeze of energy.
The beauty has retreated and as the orange sun sets
we sit together, but I am alone with hollow echoes
of a world that I claim once existed, but did it?
Here I am reciting what seems a distant fiction,
an illusion of time and experience that seems waylaid
along with countless other cultural references.
She is kind to smile, to pretend she knows who I am
as we stop for the intercom’s upbeat touting of activities
to distract residents from their evening’s mundane realities.
A stray cat can be seen lurking near the outside dumpster,
which brings to mind a host of past pets’ names and stories,
a further reminder that soon I should go.
Once she had the power to send my heart soaring
on flights of foolish fancy, puffed up with pride
and the buoyancy of innocent romantic notions.
The dwindling light sends rays dancing across the floor,
and I rise to go, minimizing regrets in strong self-talk
that explains, excuses, and never reaches her ears.
“Are we tired?” the man in the white coat asks her.
When we exchange the niceties that comprise polite farewells,
I finally realize my own disappointed exhaustion.