After You Have Vanished
The little red jewel in the bottom of your wineglass
is so lovely I cannot rinse it out,
so I go into the cool and grassy air to smoke.
Which is your warmly lit house
past which no soldiers march to take the country back?
When you reached across the table to touch my hand
is not attainable. I cannot recapture it.
And no gunners lean on their artillery at the city’s edge,
looking our direction,
having shot the sky full of bright holes.
The light bleeds from them
and it always will.
Long ago, they captured our city
and now they are our neighbors,
going about their business like they were
one of us.
Soon, like you, they will be asleep,
having washed the dishes and turned out the kitchen lights.
When I inhale, smoke occupies me.
When I exhale—
By morning the wine in the bottom of your glass
will have clotted.
I’m sorry I called it a jewel.
It is not the soldiers who have shot me full of holes.
It is not light that pours out.
Love did this.
I was filled with wine.
Now I am drained of it.
Copyright © 2016 by Kevin Prufer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 29, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I’ve become interested in the many ways, in poetry, that exterior landscapes can be made to respond to interior ones. My next book, How He Loved Them, is about that—the way a complex feeling (here, love) can occupy a version of our shared history and physical surroundings.”
Kevin Prufer is the author of six books of poetry, most recently How He Loved Them (Four Way Books, 2018) and Churches (Four Way Books, 2014). He teaches at the University of Houston and lives in Houston, Texas.
Date Published: 2016-04-29
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/after-you-have-vanished