This Valentine


edited by Deborah Fries

February 14, 2016

They brought flowers
to my history desk
pink roses
from you
my tall
college boyfriend
our first
Valentine’s Day
in 1976

The next year, split up
an obscene waste,
our baby lost,
flowers turned up
for unmarried
blushing girls
at their algebra desks
I rolled my eyes
made believe I didn’t carry you
on the backside of my heart

Thirty-eight Valentine’s Days
since, not a one of them
worth a damn
but last year in Toronto
I made you a poem, shipped
a globe on a wooden pedestal,
set off for the old world
left you in your new one
waxed on – I would bring
to your desert
the Brighton rain

On Valentine’s Day
noon your time
eight in London
a jaggedy phone call
sent back that next morning
for a bad Visa, then that hard
train back to you,
Brighton’s rain
left on its pretty beaches
your cold desert
too bright,

But I took that train
that hard wind through
Montreal Toronto Rochester
and here’s a year later
we’re all married and I carry
you on the front side of my heart

Our daughter
finally sleeps
beneath our soft blanket of mourning
we wept our goodnight
lit her candle
blew it out

Now we’ve got oxygen
feel like we’ve won the lottery
want to grow old
with the teeth in our heads
this Valentine’s Day
we crave wild air
coyotes yipping
a tangled cover of stars

This time is the best time
my college boyfriend
grown up pure male
neck smells like home

This Valentine is about
your eyes in the mirror
your hands holding
your fork
your chin
my hand

This time I’m startled
by my good
fortune humbled by
your generous
twice healed
right now

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