Bastille Day

Anne Barngrover

There are many unplanned ways to say
goodbye: stealing away, making a show,
lying drunk and intertwined in lawns. Against
the washing machine in our friends’ sunroom,
this may be the last time I will feel your hands
rub down my legs, even if just to use up
the last drops of bug spray. You touch me
as though I were piebald with bruises. Rebels,
we were too rancorous to celebrate the Fourth,
too jaded for the rural comforts of white bun
hot dogs and watered beer. No matter, I leave
you in a week’s time. It has been a day
of crepes and heavy cream, cigarette smoke
dressing the humid air, the evening’s marvel
smack against clear and green wine bottles.
We eat escargot and frog legs, each their own
rubber squeal. I do not understand love’s
cruel assemblage: how from across the room
your face still brightens to me like the rainbowed
coin of sunlight sweetening up a blank wall.
Why on earth am I still pretending? What good
is free will when all the fiddlers inside my chest
are causing such an uproar? How desperate
am I to leave my mark on you even when this day
already feels as distant as a history lesson,
pressing and surreal as a briny mouthful of stars.

To read more of Barngrover's poems, please purchase the issue here.