Ah, You

by Ken Harnisch

Ah, you
Who wrote on my heart with indelible ink
So long ago the dates and times are just
Ancient memories lost in a sepia haze.

Yet for a man supposed to be enfeebled of mind
I can recall quite vividly the day I met you
And the day you left, and most of the days
In between.

And why you haunt, and why you won’t
Go away are the most daunting questions of my life
And in every poem, every whispered assertion of
The misery of love, you survive.

I sometimes imagine our collision
In some aisle in Costco, some surprise
Reflected in both our eyes at the coincidence
Which was planned down to the exclamation point.

Could I steal you away for coffee, if you still
Drink it with milk and sugar. Could I then
Find out why you vanished even though
That question was answered so long ago?

Would I care, or pretend to. Would all the ensuing years
And disparate fates disappear in the smoke of
Our comingling in Dunkin Donuts, and one more question:
Seeing me, would you cry?

I was man enough not to weep in public when
I lost you. I became a stoic and an ecclesiastic.
I ruined other lives with casual kisses and
Wanderings down highways full of interstate motels

Still, there was something ennobling about you
Something that led me to retain some sense
Of what I wanted all along. Some star to gaze at
When the sky was black and cold

And having hauled you down from the pedestal
I am in danger of hoisting you back up. I paint you
In Technicolor so bright you would shade your eyes
And scream for me to see the gray.

A father gone. A brother and a sister. A son.
Were I his father, would I have stayed in the dark times
Would your tears have stained a hundred shirts of mine
Would I have lifted you when you could not stand?

I know what I think. What I know.
It is your thoughts I probe from so distant a mountain
From time so far back it is near unrecoverable
And memories we never shared, and never will.

Knowing that, I live the bifurcated life
Content with my fate, and yet, wondering
If life would have been a wonderful catastrophe
If you were the disaster who had my name.

I know, I know…
The grass is always greener;
The long-missing are a milk carton ideal;
Love is like climbing Everest every day.

Thanks to the wonders of the web
I know where you are, your numbers,
The people with whom you sleep, the
Profession that keeps you sane.

What I don’t know is if you know
Of mine. Or care. Or slink away
At night to see if my biography has changed
Or if you just go on to access QVC.

Better then to wonder if you wonder
Than find out you forgot there is a “c”
In my last name, or that the song we sang
Was Linda Ronstadt’s “Different Drum”

Ah, you.


Posted on 06/16/2014
Copyright © 2021 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Mo Couts on 06/17/14 at 02:20 PM

Ken, I love everything about this...especially the title. How charming!

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 06/18/14 at 01:36 PM

Two thumbs up Ken on more great writing.

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