Allen F. Clark
For Larry Negri
Our first New Year’s Eve together,
we skipped a night on the town in favor
of a small dinner at home. Pasta with pesto,
a simple dessert. You made fresh linguine
while I assembled a pear tart. We had put up
the pesto the previous August. Your fingers
were green from tearing basil, mine red
from peeling twenty heads of garlic.
As we worked, we ate focaccia still warm
from the corner bakery, washed it down
with French roast.
For music we agreed upon Puccini, flipped
a coin to decide between Tosca and Boheme.
Tosca won. We never made it past the first act,
or to midnight. After all, Cavaradossi would always
die by treachery, Scarpia would force himself
onto Tosca’s blade, and she would always find
her parapet. After dinner we made love—
good, vigorous mansex—with a double climax
during the Te Deum.
But what of us? We did not survive our failures,
large and small. We both left the City, moved
to other towns, drifted out of touch. I came to wish
for a way to slow time, at least to mute its roar.
That we could have stopped our lives that perfect
evening. I could have lived forever without walking
among the panels of the Quilt when it came
to my new home town last week, and found
at my feet your name and dates on a field of indigo,
surrounded by silver stars.
Allen F. Clark’s poems have appeared in Assaracus, The Far East, and The Good Men Project. Following his service as a Navy corpsman in Vietnam, he had a career in the health sciences in San Francisco and Seattle. His Vietnam memoir piece was selected for inclusion in a special program by the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, where he now lives.
This poem is previously unpublished.