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Baltimore

by Devon E Mattys


I watched the dawn break over Baltimore.
The pieces of it fell wordlessly for twenty minutes,
seeping into the stone of the city
as subtly as a basin overflows.

I was high above it all,
standing in the window
of what must have been a penthouse.
Before me lay the bay.
Behind me, a bed only growing colder.

Three hours earlier, you were still awake
in the other room.
I had kissed your face
and said I’d try to see you next at Christmas.
(I wouldn’t make a promise
you couldn’t let me keep.)

I felt my heart break back in Baltimore.
The pieces of it fell coldly from a penthouse view,
like shards of a shattered windowpane,
splashing without promise into the bay below.

I thought I was above it all,
standing wordless for long minutes
in the other room, impassive as a stone.
Before me lay the holidays,
but I could not foresee their subtle joys.

Three hours earlier, you said you loved me.
It had been months
since last I’d heard
those words
from you.
And they wouldn’t—couldn’t—come again.

I know you left me there in Baltimore.
That reality falls recklessly before me,
so every step I try to take is mired by
your memory, flurrying like snow.

We had our time, however brief,
high above it all.
I kissed your face that night;
you said you loved me in the other room;
one of us plummeted into slumber.
I saw your shell at Christmastime, and then I knew for sure:
I’d lost you in an autumn dawn, back in Baltimore.

02/22/2010

Author's Note: This is for Charlotte Jennie Reynolds, the most awesome little girl I ever knew, who passed away from brain cancer at the age of four on 7 January 2010.

Posted on 02/23/2010
Copyright © 2021 Devon E Mattys

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by George Hoerner on 02/23/10 at 12:57 PM

This is a wonderful document of love and loss. Very well done.

Posted by Joan Serratelli on 02/23/10 at 04:58 PM

I cannot tell you how sorry I am. I used to live in "Balmer". I, too, lost my heart there. I left and only went back once. AGAIN- exceptional piece; I'm sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by V. Blake on 02/23/10 at 10:12 PM

This is one of the most intense, beautiful, and powerful poems I have seen on this site in a long time. Highest marks all around.

Posted by Therese Elaine on 02/23/10 at 10:59 PM

This is a very baroque kind of gut-punch...visceral but melodic, agonizing but exquisite, beautifully constructed but you still get lost within it. Your poetry is akin to music in many respects, and in my opinion, it is made all the more powerful for the talent you have in that direction.

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