After a decade of breakups, I’m still surprised
when a man fades to an outline of himself,
and the weekend we spent in a tin-roof cabin
at the end of a dirt road becomes no more than
a pencil drawing of a landscape I once inhabited.
Beneath trees leaning like stick figures,
I sat beside the Romanian on a fallen log,
sap sticking to my jeans. What was he saying?
I can see his soft gray eyes, see his mouth
moving in this film without sound. One day,
the picture may disappear too. This man
I swore I’d never forget will be gone.
My heart once shivered like rain on leaves
when he wrestled with English words.
Memory is timid, dissolving into corners.
If I could retrace my steps from that log
to the cabin, lie inside, inhale the threadbare
sheets and quilt sour from sweat,
maybe I could remember his earthy scent,
what else he said about childhood: cold winters
with very little bread, the four-hour line
his mother stood in for eggs. But the mind’s
tributaries dry over time. Memory’s vast creek
beds crack in the sun, and was he the one
with the stitch-sized scar on his bottom lip,
or was it some other man, or some other man?
Sara Pirkle is a Southern poet, an identical twin, a breast cancer survivor, and a board game enthusiast. Her first book, The Disappearing Act (Mercer University Press, 2018), won the Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry. In 2019, she was nominated for Georgia Author of the Year in Poetry, and in 2022 she was shortlisted for the Oxford Poetry Prize. She is the Assistant Director of Creative Writing at The University of Alabama.
© 2023, Sara Pirkle