This is the place we promise to leave
because February feels like fifty days of sleet,
because March bellows late season northeasters,
because April is a washout,
because summer blazes like smokes my father sparked
each time he leaned against the banister, stared at patches of trees.
Did he dream of life in another city
before cancer killed him?
Did he remember mines that swallowed my grandfathers,
dead before I knew them?
This is the place we promise to leave,
before we inhale more of the landfill’s stink,
or avoid the Susquehanna, its water yellowed by mine sludge.
Maybe we’ll settle in Stroudsburg or Ithaca,
one of those college towns with three bookstores and corner cafes.
You tell me about your life in New York,
poetry readings and art shows every night,.
and how you dyed your hair blue and no one cared.
Maybe we’ll move there, blend in with other out-of-staters,
flee the neighbors who whisper
each time we fight over jobs we couldn’t snag.
We are their prime time, red-faced anger,
shouting atop our well-groomed lawn.
They never follow us inside for the aftermath,
or watch us disarm each other with a kiss.
We remember that this place gave us each other,
after you moved back here and we met mid-January,
one of those raw days, when we had to will ourselves to rise
from bed and face the frigid day, thawed by each other’s company,
the gesture of reaching across the table,
holding each other’s hand inside that cozy pizza café.
Brian Fanelli’s most recent book is Waiting for the Dead to Speak (NYQ Books), winner of the Devil’s Kitchen Poetry Prize. His writing has been published in The Los Angeles Times, World Literature Today, Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere. He likes to blog about horror movies and literature at www.brianfanelli.com.