Sleight of Hand and Twist of Fate
Two days before a war, before you are going to a war, before I discover what it is to know everything about a war and nothing about it, and in a room with gold-eyed cat, you are asleep. I don’t think I’ll ever sleep again.
Spring walked in the door at about ten to midnight, gusts of rain with that wet earth smell. Spring taught us in early childhood; we all know that scent, the goodness of it, the life come back. How are we born knowing it, the green knowledge that winter is forever over, winter after winter? An hour ago I laid down next to you, and the scent of you, the touch of you was everything I would ever need, even as I heard your heart beat and knew that time was no friend to either of us.
I am twenty three. So are you. Regular Army. Going in two days.
Will you ever hear rain again at night, smell the earth scent of Maryland in April? The cat rolls over. I hear music from outside, known words.
“What’s the good?” you said.
In your sleep you are already continents away from me, already in the desert, already on the rooftop looking at a stranger, already wondering if you will die, and I hear it in the rain that comes down like music in the green Maryland night. I have known this night forever and will know this night forever.
I was born here. I will not die here. I already know where I will die, and I already know where you will die and know we will never be together again.
What is the good of loving with such knowledge?
When I am old and my hands are wrinkled and my hair is frost white and I wake in the spring nights and hear this same music, I will know what is the good of loving.
Sleep, sleep. Let the cat drowse, let the night walk around the neighborhood like a lost soul, let the tricks of time palm all the cards. You will love me forever, because that is what happens.
I will love you forever because that is what happens.
Nothing is better than love.