Poem 32 ± July 6, 2015

Steven Riel
What Remains

if there were a way to reach you,
a language to learn: conjunctions,
a subjunctive, a formal & familiar you

if there were a rosary to shinny up,
a way to climb, decade by decade,
mystery by mystery, into the indigo sky

if there were a highway in your direction,
an odometer to gauge the distance between us
like a modern Bethlehem star

if my car radio could chance upon you
singing Streisand songs through the static

if I could sprout antennae,
fizz like a Geiger counter, be launched
like a satellite to track gamma rays
from the black star you may now be

if I could sled downhill on a bright
December afternoon & feel again
your mittened fingers clasping my waist
as we dodge bare oaks,
skid out across the lake–
if the lake were not black gloss,
those runner-scrapes like icy scars

if I could find the chink, simply
tap & hear the hollow
behind the fake door,
then stumble through the tunnel
out of this galactic silence,
into what remains of your light,
I promise you would find me there.

Steven RielSteven Riel is the author of Fellow Odd Fellow (Trio House, 2014), Postcard from P-town (Seven Kitchens, 2009), The Spirit Can Crest (Amherst Writers and Artists, 2003), and How to Dream (Amherst Writers and Artists, 1992). His poems have appeared in Alexandria Quarterly, Assaracus, OVS Magazine, International Poetry Review, Poetry Porch, SNReview, Evening Street Review, and RFD, among others, and in anthologies including Art & Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years of A&U (Black Lawrence Press, 2014), edited by Chael Needle and Diane Goettel; Divining Divas: 50 Gay Men on Their Muses (Lethe Press, 2012), edited by Michael Montlack; Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2011), edited by Kevin Simmonds; Knocking at the Door: Poems about Approaching the Other (Birch Bench Press, 2011), edited by Lisa Sisler and Lea C. Deschenes; and My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them  (Terrace Books, 2009), edited by Michael Montlack. Steve is manager of the Serials Cataloging unit of the Harvard University Library and lives in Natick, Massachusetts.

This poem appeared originally in The Evergreen Chronicles, vol. 12, no. 3, Fall 1997, and was reprinted in The Spirit Can Crest (Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2003) and Fellow Odd Fellow (Trio House Press, 2014).