The Last Time

(for Francesca)

“You’ve given everything and
more to so many, even when we
didn’t deserve it. I wanted finally
to give to you.” Though from El Sur,
used as she was to America where take and
take defines, she couldn’t believe
he’d brought her flowers without wanting
anything in return, even as she offered
her song to remember

This could be the last time
Maybe the last time
I don’t know

As she put her arms around him, pulled
him close, and planted kisses on his lips
he thought he was sixteen.
She buried her head in his chest, then
buried his head in hers and danced

with him, rendered dumb as she spun
gold with her every movement’s curve.
He thought of all the clever puns and wit
he’d surely prove himself but it was
moot, and anyway she already knew
who he was, better than himself. She
took his hand and pushed it to his lips;

“Come to dinner with me.” He of course obeyed.
“I might not see you next year.”
“I understand.”
She sat him down and lit a candle with her gaze;
while he sat mute, she asked him lightly why she
mattered to him and he blushed. He could only
tell her how she and Rita Moreno
taught him everything about being LatinX,

and other silly true things, but the
most important thing was that she mattered
because she was alive and reminded him too
to live. “Oh, you’re being silly,” she
laughed, “Come here and take a picture with
me.” He stared into the flash and all
went white as everything and silence.

That silence he brings here to his goodbye.
Words can say nothing, and pictures
mean only that time is a prison and
lie: that nothing will change, that
we will always be together, always the same.

But he is here, his bare feet sodden with
memorial dust and pollen from withering lillies,
kneeling on a cliff, and she is —
There is only now. The now of silver moments
as far away as the wind that scattered
her ashes. Don’t cry because it’s over,
smile because it happened works just fine
for Dr Seuss and those who’ve never
lost anything but their pocket change, or
those who know as Melville says that smiles
are the perfect vehicle for ambiguity.

One last time he holds the photograph,
imperfect record of that time together, and
knows that what it shows is false; except
the space between her legend and the
palpitation of his tears that bleed
the ink of words unsaid.

This could be the last time
This is now the last time
Now it’s the last time
Now I know.

Categories Poetry

Omar Willey was born at St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Seattle and grew up near Lucky Market on Beacon Avenue. He believes Seattle is the greatest city on Earth and came to this conclusion by travelling much of the Earth. He is a junior member of Lesser Seattle and, as an oboist, does not blow his own trumpet. Contact him at omar [at] seattlestar [dot] net

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