I understand now. Years went by and you
carved spaces out—you carved them without me.
You homesteaded—defined a plot of new
sweet grass in a wind-swept meadow by the sea.
Here you have built a home—like the ideal
farmhouse you saw the time past when we drove
back in from Pittsburgh. It sat on a hill.
Its singularity filled you with love.
If I should cross that threshold I will be
a revenant—a wanderer who has spent
his life gone then comes back from where he went
a stranger, ghostly, footsore and alone,
thinking he still might glimpse affection’s spark
shine in your eyes—but knows your eyes are dark.
The market street seemed to stretch out for miles,
unpaved and lined with tables, everything
from fruit to flesh for sale; the flashy smiles
of black Sumatran window girls, their rings
and baubles bright against their skin; the row
of tenements that housed the blonde Dutch whores;
apartment stoops lit up with red-light glow.
This was the 1970s—before
the burrowing worm-gaunt ghost of HIV
etched AIDS into our hearts. I bought pewter
at a little shop, went to my B&B,
got guilders, and then played the tourist-suitor.
Morning was bread and coffee and five men
eating, quiet, recalling last night’s sin.
—David Landrum, Grand Rapids, MI