September 25, 2022

A DRINK TO END THE WORLD

by R.T. Castleberry

The map of the world has changed
since I photographed you
faded in its frame,
ink lighter with the seasons.
No Siam, no Burma,
one Vietnam.

Across the room
your cheekbones are sharper,
hair shorter, bright blonde as
your lips and nails are red.
Aroma from a whiskey tumbler reveals
polite wine lost to single malt.
Surgical, your laugh slices the room,
precise as heels across an Aztec tile floor.
You step out where I stand
to smoke, to stare at the waxing moon.
We don’t speak until,
You look tired. You always look tired.
You should rest more.
It’s an old routine and I smile.

We share history.
Landscape altered, arranged for success,
the road we drove to a party
is paved now, darkness into light,
crowned by anchor store, coffee shop and café.
The Pine Drive apartment we shagged in
still exists, same paint, heavier traffic.
You managed me through marriages,
the other men who caught your breath
in autumn, in summer.
I didn’t see a ring.
When you left alone, I didn’t follow.