Luke, This is the Poem

that I’d always hoped would ripen with age.
The sort one would save for say, posterity. Top-shelf,
top drawer; only the faintest hint of melancholy in the back of the
throat
the heart no longer rending.

This is the poem that followed me home
and had its mail forwarded –
not unlike yourself; only more innocent.
But Luke, none of us are young anymore.

That winter, I drove you back to Salinas, and that narrow stretch
between fields.
You called the half-buried heads of the artichokes blue collar roses,
you smoked Marlboros. You woke up in gutters
with people you didn’t know.

We were twenty and everything trembled.
So, though it was winter, we saw vines heavy with grapes,
fishermen tipping back oysters; the California
they all wrote about.

Luke, now even the valleys are made of silicon. They’re turning off
the lights
one by one and the Golden State is fading next to the ocean. But
shhhh…

You’re still standing somewhere in Salinas, getting smaller.
You’re waving your red scarf. Winter is falling
and Monterey, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara
are covering the ground like misaligned stars.

Burning and from the distance,
they even seem fixed.

Marlo Bester-Sproul

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