The Promise

By Stephen Roberts

When I heard you killed yourself
The thing that flashed
Was last summer at the farm:

walking in the tall grass,
dry with heat,
the August afternoon,
counting the cricket’s chirps
(friction of legs, a dry rubbing)
and measuring the intervals.

Our fingers locked,
your hair undone,
wild in the sudden breeze
that smelled of rain.

Heat shimmer giving way,
clouds gathering deliberately
beyond the stone ridge,
by horizon’s edge.

We saw the flash,
the western sky
quivering with arrowed light,
waited until the thunderclap
and calculated distance.

Moving swiftly
The storm ridge advanced,
birds quiet,
crickets silent,
shadows clinging to each step.

Shrieking across the field,
just ahead of the rain
sweeping like a scythe
behind us,
we ran
into the barn,
into the hay,
the fragrant hay,
the air light and heavy

the sky darkening,
a tattoo of rain
against the slatted roof.

My tentative approach,
the shy surrender of your mouth,
tongue to tongue
the revelation of flesh
you grasp my hand
bidding me wait, not yet
the compromise, the consolation,
dry skin to dry skin,
the chirping sound you made,
then the rest,
the savor of the pause,
we lay,
counting the heartbeats
next year you promised
next year
you’d be ready

Stephen Roberts is a graduate of SUNY Stony Brook and Yale Law School, and is a practicing attorney in Manhattan. His poetry has been published in Poetry Salzburg Review, The Cape Rock, The Tishman Review, The Worcester Review, TRINACRIA, Third Wednesday, and Blue Unicorn, among others, and he attended The Home School in Hudson, New York in 2015. He has completed his first novel, A Confusion of Senses. He resides in Lagrangeville, NY with his wife.

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