Michael Broder received his MFA from the Creative Writing Program
at New York University in 2005. His work has appeared in Painted
Bride Quarterly, La Petite Zine, the Brooklyn Review, and the Capilano
Review, as well as in the anthology This New Breed (Windstorm
Creative, 2003), and is forthcoming in BLOOM. He is working
on a doctorate in classical studies at the City University of New
York and teaches in the classics department at Brooklyn College.
The Syntax Of Loss
In Latin the same grammatical case
tears us from a mother's womb
and joins us in a lover's embrace-
degree of difference between two things,
as in, "I am older than you by fifteen years,"
gap to be bridged, wall to be breached,
like the high walls of Troy,
space of a thumbprint on Achilles' heel,
place where his mother held him,
dipped him in a river of oblivion,
so that no one would ever forget.
I was eleven. He was fifty-two.
I want to say you were fifty-two.
But he is not my second person,
like the lovers at whom I can be angry,
or regret something we said or did not say to each other,
but still say you.
He is he, that man over there,
way off in years, not me, not my.
Today makes 30 years. Last night
I lit the candle that will burn for 24 hours.
It will burn for him.
Was it mine before it was ours,
this rock we call our own,
where we perch with coffee and bagels weekend mornings?
I can't remember that far back, or what I did
before I had you and your powers of recollection.
I must have invented the past, yesterdays that had to be,
to suit the mood I was in or provide a clue
to whatever happened next.
Today I sit here alone and ask myself if you exist
or if I only imagined you, without you here to tell me
whether or not we ever met.
Later Than I Would Like It To Be
Shadows lengthen on the cold pavement,
October stains the leaves on dry, rustling trees,
you become loam in the ground-
like words that made no difference on first hearing-
Nobody has the flu for nine weeks;
see another doctor;
drinking will kill you before the virus has a chance.
You do not have to die;
I love you;
I love you anyway.
It's okay, it's okay.
I couldn't go there tonight.
Anyone could see why-
Nightfall, the mouthful
of springtime in the air,
aroma of toast and French fries,
neon, amber, gargantuan sigh
of the bus's pneumatic breaks,
Frisbee half buried in the mud of South Field-
I'd wait on the steps for hours.
And don't think I'm better off here-
Room dark with years, memories
break down these walls, and there I am
with you on Broadway,
toast and French fries, 2:00 AM.
And don't think I'd give them up
for the world-these memories I run
breathless to outpace, looking over
my shoulder, making sure they're never
more than one step behind.
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