The song played– muffled, hesitant,
As if the tabletop jukebox
Seemed unsure of the tune’s suitability,
As out of place and time as ourselves,
It being Wednesday morning three A.M.
At the all-night diner on the Klondike Road
(The mills, going full-bore down the road in Montmorenci Falls
Making such a place viable, indeed necessary),
But we laughed loudly and nonchalantly
Between bites of nearly adequate cheeseburger,
Ostensibly unaware of all that
Which was tangible but unspoken, indeed unspeakable,
This being the last of the last summer not careworn,
Textbooks to be exchanged for neckties,
Plastic sandals swapped for sensible flats,
A mere handful of evenings remaining before the clumsy process
Of untying all that which had been loose ends from the beginning.
Would I go back? In a sense, it does not matter.
There was always a laundry list of reasons
That it could not be, cannot be, will not be:
Irreparably meshed gears of relocations and reconciliations,
Gordian knots of logic and desire.
Still, in my dreams, I often run like a madman,
Chest burning as my sneakers slap the pavement in the darkness,
Back toward the diner, but it has been razed to the ground
(Likely the case, for all I know,
What with the mills silent and padlocked all these years),
And I paw madly, feverishly through the rubble
In search of some remains of those vinyl chanteuses of love songs,
Those epitaphs of our failures,
Those three-minute odes
To our compromised and conditional successes.
(This piece first appeared in Issue 52 of The Other Herald. Ms. Rice is not only very generous to the lightly published, she puts together a package worthy of your quarterly patronage)