Dave drove Rose to the station and bought her
one-way Greyhound ticket south to Portland.
She said her needs were such she could never
marry, too much remained for her to do,
no need to tell him more. He watched her leave.
Dave explained her departure to himself
as much as to Bobby listening for words
that would unriddle their upended lives,
four arms cracked open, splintered, and why Rose
fled south to do what she must attend to.
Rose called Dave from Portland to say she loved
him still, missed his comfort of her anguish.
She had a room now and would get a job.
No matter. He pleaded with her, Come back,
I will never speak of marriage again.
He made her sadder, she needed to live
there for a time. Why not? She had feelings
he knew nothing of, nor would she say why.
Trust me, Dave. I know what I have to do,
and the connection was broken, like that.
Bobby felt like an interloper now.
Her song echoed in his head, Rose’s voice.
Why didn’t he stick to the clarinet?
He sang Easy Rider, St. James Infirmary
in her honor, weeping inside like a baby,
and hoping for tears that would wet his cheeks.
Dave played Rose. Bobby sang with a flourish.
Night moved by, clarinet still in its case.
He had no need of his woodwind when Rose
was not here to move the minor chords through
the timbre of her voice, a line her deep vibrato
tracked to bring words back where she had left them.
After that came the anticlimactic
and uninspired songs Danny sang like wind
blowing up into a gale filling DG’s horn
with a little roar blossoming out there
to complete the night without agony
underscoring sound covering old ground.
As the quartet was preparing to go,
Rose called from Portland, barely audible.
(30 March, 7 April 2012)