For Harold Arlen

I know, I let Gershwin
kiss me in a restaurant on 49th Street.
How could I help it when he was writing
“I Loves You Porgy” for me, right there
as I cut my steak and raised a bite
to my mouth, coming up behind me
and lingering on my shoulder, unbuttoning
whatever I was wearing, so there was
nothing between me and the song but my skin?

And that time with Rodgers
in the apartment on West 93rd —
I loved it, loved the way he promised
to remember everything, every inch
a kind of vow — December does that to me,
the warmth of a piano in winter.
I see now how it was theater music,
how the B-flat in the second measure was sugar,
the A-flat in the third much too beautiful,
but then? Then it was nothing but beauty.

I suppose if anyone would understand
it would be you…

And it’s really never anyone
but you, all you need to do is walk in the door
and that E-flat halfnote will stop the conversation.
Just stand there and I’ll drop everything,
tell my friends the night is over, go home.

Just lean in the doorway while I walk around
the table putting out every candle, maybe taking
a final glance in the mirror before dousing the last
at a face older than I remembered — has it been
that long? — but you only smile, hands in your pockets,
the notes blue enough to forgive a lifetime,
the drop from A to low C a look I thought
I’d never see again, the certain look of you
reminding me
this could be our shining hour.

From The Scheme of Things, David Robert Books, 2015