This week’s poem offers us the lyrical sentences of a speaker who’s looking through winter, back toward his youth, which he holds like “like a stovetop holds a blue flame.”

This poem appears in “Bicycle in a Ransacked City: An Elegy,” published by Alice James Books in Farmington. Andrés Cerpa was raised in Staten Island, New York, and spent many of his childhood summers in Puerto Rico.

For Tim – Newark, DE

By Andrés Cerpa

Somewhere in summer my friends are burning through cane and cold beers in a ’twas heaven prayer card.

Between now and there I don’t say much more than, “How’s the weather?” to the rain.

It turns to snow.

Winter is the knife I carry but never use & we’re dying but dying slow & that’s life.

“You scared?”

I’m no longer sure my friends can save me.

But once I dreamt that death was a struggle for the last words you don’t find, then you wake & everyone’s there playing Wiffle ball again.

In the house we shared there was static & the trains shook the windows as they left.

I want to shake like that again.

The grass is always greener & the dead think so too, but they learn to let go.

I haven’t.

My jacket’s been stitched in dear Lord & late birdsong; in black branches & ice.

And my youth, I hold it, like a stovetop holds a blue flame, or how a child holds

a revolver: guilty, thrilled in a black corner of the attic.

This is the brutal joy of moving closer to sleep.

Your head on the bar while we dance.

I’m walking through snow now, banished, not saying much & hoping I can become like you: stripped of every decadence: light as the light on the floorboards.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2019 Andrés Cerpa. It appears in “Bicycle in a Ransacked City: An Elegy” (Alice James Books, 2019) and appears here by permission of Alice James.

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