Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax
  jeff winter

Because you are not here to join your story
to mine, it happened the way I remember:

Twilight’s pressure finally removed, the humid night air
fell over our shoulders, a warm damp blanket. On a knoll
some distance off we curled into one another’s space, far
enough away to divorce sight from sound.

Each palpitating blossom of light appeared in the sky
ahead of its booming report; each report diminished with every
desperate echo. The smell of the explosions came later,
like the scent of blue smoke from some small discharged weapon.

We compared notes, history.

When I grew tired you made a nest for me and I lay back,
my forearms for a pillow. You nestled between my splayed legs
and wondered (when the marijuana made you silly) whether
the color of a burst of sparks affects its volume.
Each blast was like the miniature specter of an old sacrifice,
on our side or the other. We were respectful, but not reverent.
You ate popcorn, sucked your fingertips and leaned back on
tentpole arms knotted at the elbow.

And as I watched your back in staccato silhouette your
shoulder blades jutted and fluttered in the flickering light like
buds meant to become wings, like a pair of promises revoked.
They seemed to struggle inside your skin while you gaped at the display.

When I sat up you had stopped watching the sky; instead you had started
watching those who still watched, bunched up clans gabbing on the riverbank.

My tongue scoured your palm for salt before
we packed up and drove back home.