You turn sixty-five this year, and the silver sliver of an “L” fades from your signature.
Do you remember the night we first met? Erin hung off my shoulders, her warm breasts against my shirtless back. “Surprise Zachary,” she giggled. You looked up at me from atop the cedar-wood desk, like a black cat, yellow eyes, cautious. You reeked of spoiled ink and must. “Type something great while I prepare your birthday cake,” she said, and left the room. I named you, ROYA short for Royal, and referred to you as my black-iron tank. And like a tank, I drove you through the desert, each night, in search of images. It was only a matter of time before I was lost.
Erin would ask me to stop typing and get back into bed, but once I started, my fingertips pelted your keys like summer hail. The rata-tat-tat ascended to something hypnotic, a spiritual symphony, like the church organ of my childhood. When I paused, to load more paper or compose my thoughts, you would laugh. I wondered if it was not at me. How many bright-eyed men have you seen abandon their Great American Novels?
How many veins have been opened over you in the name of a poet’s poverty?
How many times have you locked your keys since she left?
I wish I could release the margins of guilt, just shift through time when she and I were happy, and backspace over her tears with asterisks. But I chose you, and words stick.
Ink cannot be erased, leaving all my mistakes in front of me.