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For K. J. Leaving and Coming Back

by
 August First: it was a year ago
we drove down from St.
-Guilhem-le-Désert to open the house in St.
Guiraud rented unseen.
I'd stay; you'd go; that's where our paths diverged.
I'd settle down to work, you'd start the next month of your Wanderjahr.
I turned the iron key in the rusted lock (it came, like a detective-story clue, in a manila envelope, postmarked elsewhere, unmarked otherwise) while you stood behind me in the midday heat.
Somnolent shudders marked our progress.
Two horses grazed on a roof across the street.
You didn't believe me until you turned around.
They were both old, one mottled gray, one white.
Past the kitchen's russet dark, we found bookshelves on both sides of the fireplace: Verlaine, L'Étranger, Notes from the Underground.
Through an archway, a fresh-plastered staircase led steeply upward.
In a white room stood a white-clad brass bed.
Sunlight in your face came from the tree-filled window.
"You did good.
" We laid crisp sheets we would inaugurate that night, rescued from the grenier a wood- en table we put under the window.
Date our homes from that one, to which you returned the last week of August, on a late bus, in shorts, like a crew-cut, sunburned bidasse.
Sunburned, in shorts, a new haircut, with Auden and a racing pulse I'd earned by "not being sentimental about you," I sprinted to "La Populaire.
" You walked into my arms when you got out.
At a two minute bus stop, who would care? "La Populaire" puffed onward to Millau while we hiked up to the hiatus where we'd left ourselves when you left St.
Guiraud after an unambiguous decade of friendship, and some months of something new.
A long week before either of us said a compromising word acknowledging what happened every night in the brass bed and every bird-heralded blue morning was something we could claim and keep and use; was, like the house, a place where we could bring our road-worn, weary selves.
Now, we've a pause in a year we wouldn't have wagered on.
Dusk climbs the tiled roof opposite; the blue's still sun-soaked; it's a week now since you've gone to be a daughter in the capital.
(I came north with you as far as Beaune.
) I cook things you don't like.
Sometimes I fall asleep, book open, one A.
M.
, sometimes I long for you all night in Provencal or langue d'oc, or wish I could, when I'm too much awake.
My early walk, my late walk mark the day's measures like rhyme.
(There's nothing I hate---perhaps I hate the adipose deposits on my thighs ---as much as having to stay put and wait!) Although a day alone cuts tight or lies too limp sometimes, I know what I didn't know a year ago, that makes it the right size: owned certainty; perpetual surprise.

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