Pencil me in, you said, if it helps you remember where some nights I lay my head.
but just those light lines, erasable, graphite I can thumb-smudge when I come back
drunk and irascible.
Cold night, and I’m out alone,
short legs knotted under folded
arms, seeming balanced at the end
of a tight-packed, night-busy bar
through rows of empty glasses
watching new friends play guitar.
It’s all a guise. It’s all pretend.
Uneasy here, trying to fit
ego and insecurity
in the same circle of leather.
Really, I’m thinking of you,
broad casual smile, your plea
that I trust you, at least a while.
I guess I’ve never seen a bridge still standing built on pencil lines alone;
and a boat that carries us from here to there must be something more than drawn.
Hours later and the dark has deepened.
sweater-clad and long bed-ready
I quick-step past the quasi-home
created against silver spokes—
a frame-deprived meter-chained tire—
to my bike just behind (victim,
next time). Afraid of night and men
like this, out alone in the cold
(I know: so unfair and selfish,
to be bike-mounting and watching
the bouncer oust him, and think just
of what could happen on my ride,
what strangers could appear and scare
me witless of city living,
while his horror is there, moving
him from almost-safety under
blankets, breaking his chilled slumber.)
Against my will I picture
you beside me, pedal-standing,
tall and laughing into the night,
absorbing just surface, but strong
in your blindness, as if other
senses were heightened. It strikes me
that lonely and temporary
are hard ways to be. So homeless
and loveless, this stranger and I,
desire something of permanence.
I think I’ll have to look to someone else to color contours of pencil lines left behind,
but these scars came out darker in my skin than on paper and moving on from you
will take more than an eraser.