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In Days when Wood was Unaffordable,

we placed red candles on black-painted bricks
in the fireplace, flames in staggered pinpoints,
our stars in the night.

The children asleep, we sat on the old Naugahyde sofa,
listened to our first stereo. Night after night we leaned
into Suzanne's mystery sung by Leonard Cohen,
with tea and oranges that came all the way from China,

our minds striving toward the verdigris Lady as boats slipped
into New York harbor, grasped by what we could not grasp,
the promise, the distant light.

Today, a day of heat and aqua sea, different harbor, different boats,
an orange on my plate. The memory of that time comes to me
with winter and the warmth of Cohen's music,
the words we tried to travel by.
Your brokenness. Mine.

And the sun pours down like honey while a pileated woodpecker
hammers the tree, and you are here from your dead distance,
and though nothing's the same, my love,
I am the same, still here,
still listening.

by Mary Jo Balistreri
First published: Tiger's Eye Press  

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