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Sestina Four

It was the year they reincarnated Billy the Kid and the Sox
Won the Series again. I don’t know what they call it- forgetting
You know someone, forgetting their face, their eyes, their name.
It would’ve made the news, had I remembered to call home,
Just once. At first all the second comings made me squeamish,
My mind takes as long to settle as an old house, with rickety

Floorboards, with the slow rattle of a radiator against the rickety
Walls. That winter was so cold and the heat so poor we always wore sox.
The damn cold kept the meat frozen & now thawed, almost squeamish.
Same year they unearthed father’s uniform and reburied it, forgetting
To mark the mound. A piece of sandpaper to scuff the ball, home
Plate more of a concept than a target. Really, of all the pitches to name

It was the wild curveball I recall, the one I remember like my name.
I remember the snap, some distant echoing cry, a stretcher, the rickety
Ford, an aging country doctor. And for all that barely the scent of home
To welcome me back. That wasn’t the year I saw you bare, ‘cept for sox,
Creeping out of your bedroom as I lay on your brother’s sofa forgetting
The ‘whys’ and ‘what-fors’ that brought me there, you weren’t squeamish

There in the kitchen making breakfast, buck naked. I was squeamish,
Barely just a boy. That was then. It isn’t for lack of trying I forgot the name
You gave me. I’m surprised I remember any of it. Funny thing, forgetting,
Because I always held your words so dear, like the rudder of a rickety
Sailboat, skirting the boulders beneath cliffside shadows. Darning sox
Is how I imagine you now. Domesticated, despite the lack of a true home.

Now, cursed as I am – alien, stranger, drifter, not even knowing home. Home.
All my efforts to piece it back together in fragment, ethereal, even squeamish
at the thought of what it once was. Broken. Like the Bambino and the Sox,
Betrayals bequeath a legacy of defeat. Is there anyone here who can name
The anguish of a young boy who watched you disappear down the rickety
Steps of your brother’s cottage, left alone and somehow always forgetting

Where home was, or where it is. Forgetting its meaning, its heart. Forgetting
The smell of pie in the oven, or of the perfume you wore. And finding home
Again – the warm embrace of friends and lovers, the front door and rickety
Coat rack where your scarves hung like monster tentacles in my squeamish
Imagination. Let me be a reminder and somehow I’ll remember your name
And mine, the elegant curve of your calves clothed only in tight green sox

Those long knee-high sox, so often the cause of my forgetting.
He was only Billy the Kid in name, the real outlaw stayed home
quivering & squeamish, between her thighs, in bed, soft and rickety.

by Jeffrey Enright and Laurence Lillvik

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