By: Corie Rosen
For M., 1981-2020
It was a night for ecstasy—
by which I mean
a night for revelry,
by which I mean
that for some, it was
a night for small white pills.
We were both nineteen that year
sun up on the Macy’s Day Parade
because we were still so young then
and that is what young people did.
No longer young, M. and I spoke last August.
A cup of coffee, he’d said.
I’ll be in town.
A holiday though,
and the mountains had the White River
hills blooming with lupins
all purple at their spines.
There will be other trips.
There will be
I’ll see you.
Yes, Old Friend,
yes, Old Friend.
I’ll see you next time.
There was no way to guess
while the world gasped,
while my daughter slept,
while we waited for a new drug
and its promise of greater safety—
Now, when I draw the blinds at night
I look between the houses to a slip of mountain
road and starlight
not a view so much as a gap in time.
It is as though, on the other side of that space,
adjacent to that narrow valley,
there lies an afternoon last year when
we finally met for coffee
when I didn’t look into the night and wonder
where, in the burn of time, that missing moment might have been mislaid
if it was forgotten in the place where we are our young selves again
drinking cheap champagne and
drawing a bath just in time to see the sunrise
waiting and hoping for a time when
we will be older once again.
Corie Rosen's work has appeared in Arts & Letters, Crab Creek Review, and Juked, among many other places, and has also been anthologized, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and featured on NPR. Her first book of poems, 'Words for Things Left Unsaid,' published by Aldrich Press in 2020 and was nominated for the National Book Award.
"As both a poet and fiction writer, I often invent the characters who live inside my poems. In this case, however, the writing is based on my lived experience. Early in the pandemic, in March of 2020, a high school friend of mine, someone who I had been close to for a long time many years ago, died suddenly of a drug overdose. He worked in music, and not long before that had visited Denver where I live, and he had reached out to reconnect. It’s impossible, when things are going well, not to fool yourself into believing that there will be other chances, that there will always be more time. I’d gone away for the weekend and missed seeing him. I figured I’d see him next time he came through town, but our conversation about having coffee ended up being the last time we ever spoke. Grief is a strange and private thing, and the job of poetry—one of the many jobs of poetry, anyway—is to bring the strange, the private, the otherwise unspoken, onto the page and make it accessible. My hope is that this poem does something along those lines, that it connects the memories of a friendship with the grief of a sudden loss, and that it assembles something new out of the fragments."