LETTING EVENING COME ON by Joshua Gottlieb-Miller
Seventeen, in a constant state
of non-emergency. Walking with my dog,
I’d invite neighborhood girls to join me.
During the day we would follow the trail
through the woods. At night, skirt
along the road by the edge of the forest,
lucky to see fireflies hover
over a puddle by the ‘no dumping’ sign.
This was the summer of the DC sniper,
who added a small, romantic danger
to wandering our lobbyists’ suburb.
Now when my friends mention
the sniper attacks, they talk about
how hot it was, the nervousness
in which they felt unmarked.
I think about walking by the woods,
slow-talking Kate or Priscilla,
or Priscilla’s sister. I was a coward
when it came to kissing, late to realize
if I didn’t make a move
I would never take a girl’s first blush,
run my hand into the unknown.
With every girl I kept their secrets
so well I forgot them. Whose were
their faces? The red dot of the sun
bloomed among its rolodex of clouds
as I woke alone. Each friendship
a surprise that required reconciliation
with my romantic life and the fantasy
I believed it would become.
Trickle of the almost creek,
dogs barking, back-firing
cars; I listened
to an increasing number
of lonesome smiles
letting evening come on.
The un-starred sky
telling us no one
That breath held
as the shared light
zeroed in on the two of us.