Ever since the moment

of that irresponsible incantation—

a witch at a poetry reading

spelling us to invite in our dead

—I've felt you choking me,

your hands on my throat

like the belt that wrapped

your neck,

so not at peace,

my psychic friend said,

in the last moments

of your life.

I wonder sometimes now

if I loved you, even then

did I? Did I keep you close

after you passed

in order to know

what love is not?

Was it love, that drive

to Baltimore on prom night,

that deep comfort even as

feelings were ignored,

was it love

we sipped through

the same straw,

as prune-filled

as Dr. Pepper?

But even now,

I love you. I love

the limited things I knew

about you. I loved

the tight feel of your hand

down my pants

and how the top hem

of your khakis

chafed my wrist

as I made you come.

I loved kissing you

and moving forward

without glasses

and spending every night

into morning laughing

at ourselves

in your car

because it was a home

we could share alone.

I even love

how you'll let me question

if I loved you,

if I knew what love was

when I was a dumb eighteen,

if the love I felt for you

parallels how I know

I must look

when I write—

encased in spirit,

lifted from the bench,


I saw you play

your upright bass, so I know

you knew that kind

of love, too.

Maybe, after all, love is reserved

for two who feel it


in the same way—

it's the kind of love

that whips you

as it's filling you

with the thing

you'll come

to call God—

the poetry lines,

the picking notes,

the art that takes

such hold of you

you're certain

you're choking

even as you breathe.