If it weren’t you who died
it would have been me:
this constant flow of time
would keep us from sitting down
to breakfast together, still keep us from
drinking too much in the red light
of Ben’s Lounge or Juanita’s,
keep us from fishing this fat muddy river,
named twice, the Grand, the Colorado.
We were different, and I know
I should leave it that way.
You couldn’t have lived in this world
of thick boots and young women,
too loud rock and roll and saying
I love you for the sake of saying it.
I still feel your smile, though,
hear the morning cough and the rub
of your stiff stubble,
still smell the tinny grease on your clothes
after an honest day’s work.
I smell your cigarettes and coffee
late at night.
I can’t forget, forgive
that all we seemed to catch
were ugly suckers, catfish and carp,
and you lived, loved every minute of it.
I resent you for living it
rather than reading it, and that a dove,
a cloud, a dragonfly, were all the same: moving.
I still don’t understand, so tell me
to pay attention when I notice
there’s absolutely no breeze, and nothing,
not even leaves, stir.
Tell me it’s okay
when I’m startled by the suddenness
of memory, by the realization
the river is different even in itself,
current and depth, moving and silent.