The man in the wine shop gives me half a glass
of sweet French red, tells me it's been popular
at weddings. He blithely calls it port, but I can't
help but think: It's madeira in a stained pink dress.
I carry one slim bottle beneath my arm just as far
as the spirits section at the back. I confess
it's a share of Guyana rum that I'm really after.
Fifteen-year aged in an oak cask is the stuff
on which my dreams are made and broken,
unless you count the time, five vodka shots
and several tons of knife-edged heartbreak later,
I locked myself in Brian and Jody's loo and shouted
at an imaginary dead boy for half an hour. It's true
that I'm built for heartbreak, and so I raise
this toast to friends loved, lost, and about
to be lost. Death has always wanted me closer
than those she steals from my arms. It's you
that I can never hope to save, and so I'll tell
this story before I forget: as a child, I drowned
off North Carolina. I remember the crush of water
in my lungs and the vicious sting of salt
all the sun-shot way down. I remember the calm
that stole over me less than half a minute before
I hit the sand and choked up her gifts to me, grief
before glory. You're the ferryman now, she said.
And, fool that I am, I believed it.