widower’d holidate

What I stole for love added up.
It added up to nothing.  To the air perfumed
by an absent woman.  To a box

filled with crushed chalk.  God save me
from the stars, once and for all—
I have had enough.  Let me love anything

but that: let me go free and dream
of green oceans and the surf
that batters some other world to sleeplessness.

It is enough to whisper only
this.  To speak to the flame in your breast
and hear nothing else.  Once

I believed I could possess
what touched you: the worn sweater,
or the song on the radio

that meant nothing and all in that instant.
Against your door I pressed
my ear, and heard nothing, the whisper

of water, maybe, a breath of cool air—
the gossip of your absence—
and nothing in me could knock or wait,

and all around me the night
spread like water through a rag,
and I let my hands drop whatever they held.

—Paul Guest, Popular Romance