Elegy: Boston

August, one of those evenings I walked
the long way home, over the Harvard Bridge,
your image dissolving sweetly like a lozenge
on my tongue. This friendship, I reminded
myself, is everything but wrong.

In like with, not in love with: you.
I already had somebody, what else is there
to do? Suffer, and let the river air it out.
Like a spectator I hovered at the balustrade,
waiting for an early evening regatta,

bright sails, black keels cutting
beneath the railing, turning me
from my yearning, steeling my reeling
mind. Below, breezes herringboned
the rusty water, rush hour traffic knotted behind

me at the center of the bridge. These and other observations
I jotted in my journal, remembering your dark
fingers around my own like riggings, our calls,
brief torrents, anchoring my afternoons. Can I think
through your absence now, in words

as ungainly as these: Institute, 364.4 Smoots, abandoned band shell,
deleted emails, KS, Acyclovir? That night I stalled, not wanting to reach
Boylston, buy books and wine and candy and circle like a gull above
feeling. I stood there, as I sit here now, watching the red-brick
beacons beckoning dimming, like all desires, and loss itself, to mere horizon.

From Punks: New & Selected Poems (The Song Cave, 2021) by John Keene. Copyright © 2021 by John Keene. Used with the permission of the publisher.