by Lois Roma-Deeley
We’re stuck on a raft lurching down Snake River,
having come a long way just to find some peace.
In this aerial shot of steep canyon walls
and white water tumbling over jagged rocks,
dark specks of solitude and longing.
Suddenly, the movie jump cuts
to the close-up of us
drinking from the same canteen.
But we both know the camera doesn’t love us.
Our faces swell and redden
under the summer sun, filling each frame
with too much sorrow.
Now the lens refocuses itself
and I crack a few jokes.
You’re my best friend and so,
throwing your head back, you laugh.
The birds flying high above our heads
squawk out their warning.
Now the image changes again
and there I am running down cellar steps.
In the dark we hear a frantic breathing
There’s a homeless man
crawling through your basement window.
We’re afraid—we’re always afraid—
he’s come to steal the scene,
hungry for applause.
The camera pans left
to stacks of musty magazines
then right to piles of mildewed books,
finally resting on the thief sitting right between them.
A flashlight hangs from his mouth.
He writes on a yellow pad,
the words glow iridescent in the damp air
as if it were a script—
of the party where we first met.
In this tracking shot
my hair is long again. My hips are swaying
inside that silk dress. Some Kind of Blue
plays through the backyard speakers.
Someone is swimming in the deep end of the pool.
While I’m standing on the over seeded lawn,
a drink in one hand, joint in the other,
you’re on one knee, scratching the throat of a stray cat.
Strange voices surround us.
In the middle of the crowd
loneliness is a just another face among the rest—
mine, the only one you’ll recognize.
My high heels sink into the soft grass,
staining the tips a soft shade of green.
Now you come behind me, surprise
whisper into my ear: What year is this?
I can’t remember.
Time fades in/fades out.
Lois Roma-Deeley’s fourth poetry collection The Short List of Certainties won the Jacopone da Todi Book Prize (2017). Her previous collections are: Rules of Hunger (2004), northSight (2006) and High Notes (2010)—a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Her work is featured in—or forthcoming from—numerous anthologies and journals including Without a Doubt, Odes and Elegies, Voices of Power & Invisibility, Slipstream, Post Road, Bosque, Zone 3, Spillway, Water~Stone, Artemis, Juked (online) and many more. Currently, Roma-Deeley is the Associate Editor of the international poetry journal Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry. She holds an MFA from Arizona State University where she studied under the direction of Norman Dubie and Rita Dove. www.loisroma-deeley.com