Monday, May 6, 2019

Blue Navy


Photo by Guy Kawasaki

A sailor who lost his way discovered me
discovering me, dancing on the dark shore of his
own quest for peace. I was only fifteen. Dumb,
numbed by the ardent blows of bracelets, boy-
friends, parents who believed in better-left-unsaids.

He was a fire escape, a shot in the dark, a fucked up
turbulent flight to freedom. He said laughter was the cure
for everything. I lived for movies like Sweet Dreams,
cheerleading try outs, hot make out sessions with male
models at Lake Merritt, sleep overs at Sabra's. I breathed

in synch with the beat of the streets of Berkeley. A trip
to 7-Eleven equaled fruit flavored wine coolers on our lips.
On a midnight football field, at an all-boys Catholic school
I was the Saint of his sorrow, toasting to a life we didn’t know
we could never have. The night we slept together, I shared

my first bed with him. He didn’t touch me, but he held me. Only
now I know the difference. To say goodbye, he took the bus
from where his ship was docked three cities away. I wasn’t home.
He left a green piece of paper, a note on the black front door
of my heart. Words for me, my parents, the world to know:

He was leaving me behind. I left his memory on the edges
of the Bay with my innocence I have yet to regain. Like ships,
soldiers come and go, slide in and out beneath bridges and boys
who know better than to believe.

David-Matthew Barnes

This poem originally appeared in the anthology Between, published in December 2013 by Chelsea Station Editions and edited by Jameson Currier.

Photo by Jannis Lucas

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