Not the Song, but After

Now everywhere the pageantry of youth
      is on display:
The squeal of bike chains spinning through the gray
     plays fugue to puddle-froth;

The punctual blitz of hyacinths in April
     ushers spring
with lavender dripped from the upturned wing
     of wind-swept Gabriel.

A youngish pair walks wired at the arms—
     she casually ribbing
him, he lightly brushing her breast, jibbing
     their step to spare the worms

stranded along the road. Too soon, their laughter
     rises and goes
drifting toward silence. And now the young man knows
     love’s not the song, but after—

like the mute, remembered chorus of the rain
     that stains the walk
long after falling, or the lifeless stalk
     still hoisting its head of grain.

Uneasy now, she loosens from his hand.
     Their dark familiars
stare back, reflected by the passing cars,
     with speechless reprimand.

Before the chill, each chartered hell grows hotter,
     yet every burn
will teach him how to run—and how to turn
     her wine back into water.

More Poems by Nicholas Friedman