Brown Estate, 2018 Tempranillo

Violence thrives like violet on the vine, but I’m rare
today, with you. I came to Napa nappy-headed,
impressively unconcerned, with heft to me. Air
kisses the wine we bring to lip: I’m not wedded

to folks, I say, the way I was. Parts of me have died
with more to expire; troubled times have changed
us both. Left to silence, a question rises—if you lied
to spare me wrath turned inward. You’ve arranged

any moment of peace I’ve ever lived in: Love, it’s hard
to trust a good thing these days, harder still to be one.
Crimson colors in our stemmed glasses. Sorry-ass bard,
feeling no ounce of romance toward the world. No gun

could woo me, though. I want to be here. Need to be—
me, the half-full fool of us. I can’t imagine what you see.


Copyright © 2023 by Cortney Lamar Charleston. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 2, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This past summer, I visited wine country in a rare taste of leisure travel since COVID-19 ransacked our lives. It was a chance to decompress, to reflect. The years leading up to that moment had, unsurprisingly, been some of my loneliest on record, and I’ve had to recalibrate to whom, what, and where my energies are directed to prevent self-neglect while the world crumbles. And what I’ve also done is lean away from loneliness, dread, and guilt by leaning into the love of my spouse who is not a natural optimist, it seems, toward anything except me: what an immeasurable blessing.”
Cortney Lamar Charleston