Everyone has a story to tell
that’s set inside a bar. I remember
the long year I loved a boy from school,
how every day at five o’clock we met
at George’s Lounge, how we became familiar,
the aging lady bartender calling
out in her clear voice–Miller, Miller Lite–
before that big door eased shut behind us.
I also recall being conscious
of the clock, how in the world of the tavern
you are always alive in the future,
even if it’s only ten or fifteen
minutes, long enough to know the baseball
game you’re watching is behind you, that if
you hope hard enough your team can still score,
there’s time and plenty of it. Imagine,
too, one chilled summer night when I was young
and fleeing my first divorce, found myself
at the End of the Trail in Dayton, Nevada.
I met a man who bought me drinks, who fed
the jukebox till I thought it would burst,
held me close enough to hear his heart.
I don’t remember when we decided
to pretend–this is a bar story,
after all–but we told the other patrons,
four tired cowboys and a black-eyed woman,
that we’d just been married, this was our
honeymoon and we were happy.
One of the cowboys wandered outside,
broke a rose from a battered bush, placed it
in a beer bottle, a gift for the bride.
I still have it. And now every year or so,
when I return to my truck in the dark
after work, I find a single rose anchored
under the wiper. My friends think I should
be afraid of this, as if this flower
were a dead chicken or a stalker’s signature.
But it’s just a rose and all it means
is that I’m forever joined to a man
who’ll never know my real name, a man
I couldn’t possibly pick out in a crowd.
Now, your turn. Tell me one of your stories.