There you are in the photo, not quite 18.
It’s winter and we’ve crossed the causeway
hours ago. We park at the beach
in field lot 5 which sits outside the boundaries
of the Fire Island seashore. We’re not talking,
huddled together inside your father’s grey Buick,
but we’re listening to the idle of the engine,
cries of sea gulls circling overhead.
Suddenly, you square your shoulders,
lean back against the seat, rest your wrist on the steering wheel.
There’s a certain peace in this bitter cold.
Now the wiper blades scrape back and forth
making half-circles on the windshield
as though the full arc of our lives
is set before us in one neat repeating pattern.
You don’t notice as I snap this picture of you
looking out the car window,
watching the snow falling, hard and furious,
into the ocean. You stare
at a future coming at us like a gigantic wave
crashing over the sand. Take this, it roars,
and see if you can live.
I remember being 16 and so in love with you
my breath hurt inside my chest
each and every time you kissed me.
What I knew then is what I know now.
I won’t say but this one thing.
Lois Roma-Deeley’s full-length poetry collection, The Short List of Certainties, won the Jacopone da Todi Poetry Book Prize, (Franciscan University Press, 2017). Her previous books include: Rules of Hunger, northSight and High Notes, a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Roma-Deeley has published widely in numerous poetry anthologies and literary journals, nationally and internationally including Spillway, Columbia Poetry Review, North Dakota Quarterly and many more. Currently, she serves as Associate Editor of the poetry journal Presence. Roma-Deeley was named U.S. Professor of the Year, Community College, by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and CASE in 2012-2013 and is a recipient of a 2016 Arizona Commission on the Arts grant for her poetry. www.loisroma-deeley.com