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To Robert Hayden

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Less lonely, less . . .

I gave you
a tiny box.
You lifted the lid,
praised
the usefulness
of my gift:
a silver pin shaped
like an amper-
sand. As you fastened it
to your lapel,
I thought again of
that motel
outside of Chicago.
¿Te acuerdas?
I sat on the edge
of a bench,
untied my shoes.
Face down, eyes shut,
you breathed in
the aroma
of sweat & allspice
coming off
the sheets. I tossed
my ring—gold,
inscribed—toward a pile
of clothes.
But the ring
dropped in the small
of your back
where it rattled
& rattled like a coin
in a beggar’s
cup.

Source: Poetry (December 2011)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

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To Robert Hayden

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