Nostos by James Davis May



by James Davis May

We had not quite been arguing

that night—but talking, discussing

how I answer any mood of yours

that falls below cheery contentment

with a litany of solutions,

as if trying to help you find

the right word for a crossword puzzle.

Sometimes the heart wants to be sad

and say so and be heard, you said,

or seemed to be saying,

as we followed our dogs out the door

into the yard, the carport light

startling awake at our presence

and then nodding off again.

You’ll remember that it was late,

our neighbors hours into sleep,

so we spoke softly even as we began

to really argue, this time

about who locked the door

on our way out. You’ll remember

that we gave up our prosecutions

when we realized one of us

had to hold the brittle ladder

while the other climbed to the window

we thought might be unlocked.

Part cat burglar, part narcissistic voyeur,

I paused after unfolding myself

into the room, observing

what we were when we weren’t there.

The television, mid-conversation,

prattling on without us; my beer still cold,

unmoved. You’ll remember

how the tails behind you wagged,

how happy we were to have back

what we had. I remember

I felt so heroic giving that to you

by just opening the door, which

I can tell you now, I’m certain I shut.

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