As I Near Forty I Think of You Then

By John Gregory Brown

And if your face were younger I’d buy you
the house you’ve always wanted. Big red door,
wreath heavy enough for a swallow’s nest.
I’d make good, in your language. Clear view
of the coast and of the road that licks along it.
Shortbread every morning, trawlers in the distance
so you can depend on something coming back
better than it left. As it is, you are almost
seventy, wincing without moving your lips, though
you’ll deny it. You feel like a poseur now, a stranger
you say, at the beach. Once, it was all you knew—
bonfires and tan stomachs. Anyone could have
loved you. I’m sorry for what’s next. You, stranded
at a gas station in Ohio. Infant surgery and
the cast that followed. Years my father spent
quoting the Bible as you swept and stewed, saved,
let out hems. While we kicked and bickered
your thirties away. If I could go back to the dark
farming soil, I’d rip out the hyacinths and plant you
a lifetime of hydrangeas. Let loose gauzy ghost
crabs to harvest the dusk. You’d find yourself
there, between chestnut trees. Sand and all.

By Allison Adair