Vignettes of Lovers in Summer

In the spirit of autumn’s leaves turning and all things sentimental in this season, Eileen shares a farewell to summers and lovers gone by in a collection of poems called Vignettes of Lovers in Summer.


vignettes of lovers in summer

i wrote a poem to bring you back to me

i tried to reanimate you, imagined who you were now
and where we could go together
but there is a gulf between past and present
and happily, you desecrated the bridge between now and then

we suffered dreams of grandeur, as all children do
and made promises in the grass that would
fade with the autumn of my college years
twice, i tried to write you back
as if the boldness of my stanzas would remind you of our tired themes
i wrote of you and all of alphabet city
and how you danced with chili spices in the kitchen
i suppose then i was hoping you would remember that night in Brooklyn
huddled close from the rain
in a cramped flat
late for dinner
the zipper caught on my dress
and i told you that for all of Europe
i would stay for you
—there was another false promise that december
but i can’t be sure who broke it first

well the New Yorker liked my poem to you
and didn’t publish it anyway
i forgave them sooner than i did you

later, when you buried yourself
balls-deep in her:
i realized

she looks better on you

the way you wear her
with the earnest and gleaming artificiality
of a man who’s bought his first real suit
i’ve seen you choking on your ambition
spitting out her pearls
as though you could architect your white collar future
by devouring a woman whole
i know i still make you sweat through your jacket
i wish you and your wine a happy solace

it might’ve been one weekend in May
spent in a caravan on a cold beach
but in the retelling of the story
it was a summer that stretched years
and our vows infinite
or something like that

once, when i cried about my crooked teeth
you got angry with me
wishing i wouldn’t be so cruel to myself
i still thank you for that kindness
i still don’t wear braces

when you showed me bohemia
by mixing absinthe in plastic cups
 in the pale yellow light of morning
staring out to the street in Amsterdam
you introduced me to the woman i’d become
someone who believed in small adventures
and the pursuit of light and colour

now i imagine you in Paris instead of Plymouth, where i left you
and your sunburn has faded
and your inexhaustible hope still contagious

i  think of you whenever i see balloons

when you walked me into the sea
i thought you were a naiad, a goddess
anything but real
i could hardly believe you were there
i blinked back tears
because of course our nights together were stolen
when would i see you again by the swings, by the shore?
i had never known my queerness so honestly
so earnestly than with you
walking with you,
it felt like taking in a great breath of air
after a lifetime of small labored gasps
surely this is forbidden

you made me feel braver than i’d ever been
wearing your boots,
wading into the soft tide where the harbour met the sky
i have loved you ever since you told me
what you favorite bone was
but when you told me you loved me,
i buried the note in my journal
and couldn’t think of england anymore

you live in me as a reminder of
my favorite self.

if ever you do see paradise,
send me an orange

in truth, i have spent exactly one night in your company.
a perfectly tame night in july
i have reimagined this night in so many iterations
i am not even certain what happened
but there were cigars and coffee
we talked of our grandfathers
and what home was
where home may be

i have never kissed you, friend
but if given the chance,
a thousand times over,
on your patio under the cloudy august sky

some mornings,
i imagine what i would be doing
if i were there
vignettes play out like happy scenes during my grey days
you in the kitchen with tagliatelle
and me sitting on the counter with wine
this memory doesn’t exist except for my persistence of it
if given the chance, maybe i wouldn’t love you
but i have wondered
     would it be devastating

// 05
i don’t know why i chose you, really
or how you settled so smoothly into a routine
of caring for me those odd weeks
i read you Kerouac all summer on dark pink sheets
and you seemed to be, at the very least, entertained

i proved to be an unexpected plot device in your bildungsroman
you traveled the world after our long talks in the front room
about climbing mountains and the American dream
i’d like to think i inspired you
but i have never asked.

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