The afternotes: orange, a little frangipani,
and then something harsh and mineral:
an old jug rutted out of the ruins of a lost chapel.
But first it was like drinking spring water
lathed by rocks fatty with quartz.
No, it’s inexplicable,
even the way that drink spared our feelings.
That drink liked loneliness and appreciation, lingering appreciation.
Just thinking about that drink creates a kind of yearning
that douses you like sea spray.
I drank that drink and was convinced my body
was flying of its own accord, and why not?
The myth of Icarus is an ugly story
retold and retold and retold
by someone resentful who wasn’t able to drink
the best of the drinks we ever drank.
There was a clear sky in that glass and shaggy pines
and a bit of snowmelt doused in a fire,
and soon a blue shawl drew itself from the rim
and brimmed over us both, and something caught
inside our throats and was released—some old grief.
A grief that, possibly, didn’t even come from us. Or even from our ancestors.
Copyright © 2016 by Lee Upton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.