I liked you from the start
with your bashful smile
and grime-caked nails,
your nervous hands clutching
each other in muted panic
whenever strangers loomed too close,
whether bearing alms or malice,
to your sacred safe place
by the old subway entrance.
I didn’t know but I should have guessed
the thirstiness that hits you hard
late afternoons when the bars’
dark interiors beckon.
how it sets off a clarion in your skull,
your palms start to tingle and sweat,
and a purpose possesses you,
swallows you whole.
you settle easy for a spell,
disconnected from the world’s clamour
by the clear cool contents of a glass.
a moment of clarity
when it all makes sense
and then, before I know it,
you’ve become someone else
and I’m as unnecessary
as I’d always suspected.
Photo of Beale Street, Memphis from Belinda