Lyrics taken from Rod Stewart’s “Rhythm of My Heart”
Wrapped in separate boxes, Sis gifts you the two
pictures for Christmas. You are eighteen
and love is still alive somewhere, lurking.
They are dancing at a holiday party. In one,
Mama’s scorpion red lips are parted, blonde hair
flames getting higher. Liquor and lightning
in her veins. The good bones beveling
her heel towards your father. In the other,
his leather loafers, tassels rattling, salt
and pepper mustache shifting like the handle
of a slot machine. Dad often muses they were mistaken
for professional dancers. Mama sometimes mumbles this too.
At this party, they wore each other out and retreated
to refreshments. At this party, they each wore black.
So Mama says she knew the ocean
never meets the sky and rivers run straight
into gutters, that love never exists
in an office cocktailed hour. All you know
is they face each other on your bookshelf.
Please, you think, let me still exist
in this other place, where the floor’s
not been crossed. The song’s just begun.