Wine From Portland

A poem in 5 movements.

[mvt. 1]

an overture.

I shouldn’t have asked about the bottle pushed to the back of the pantry behind oatmeal and granola bars I should have shoved it back when she pulled it out and set it next to the salt and pepper on the counter — an addition to the bitterness already beginning to build in the back of my throat

I should have said not a drop for me not a sip maybe not even a glance

I should have moved it among the other empty bottles, tucked it so far away that maybe we wouldn’t have noticed it was still full and sloshing of tannin for months

But it stayed on the counter, that wine he brought her all the way from Portland in June, back when I could talk to both of them in the same room

Now he came only on Thursdays, when she left for meetings and that bottle — still full and tightly corked — grinned with its white-teeth sheen label neither of them asked to open it for months

I’ve forgotten all about it, she will insist when she gets home later

But I can’t. I move it every time I cook. As I’m rinsing out the pans, he tells me about when he bought it

When she gets home, she insists she never liked Pinots

He tells me he hopes I open it one night and drink most of it


[mvt. 2]

a decrescendo. the mood darkens.

You should’ve been something beautiful something beginning with crimson painted lips or Pinot or unfinished glasses on the coffee table from when they fell asleep together on the couch at two a.m.

But I can’t make wine into poetry can’t find the words to even fill a page let alone explain him to her and her to him


[mvt. 3]

in D# minor. preparation for mourning sounds in this key.

You opened it one night without her and maybe that was the beginning

I thought I heard you say once, I hope you drink it all and I did

every fucking word

every love and you and love and time and love and when did I forget those words were not meant for me but for her and you are someone I could never love like that I said that once didn’t I

but you saved her a glass over on the counter poured heavy-handed to the brim one she wouldn’t drink until you left

when it was gone she decided that she could love you again

I threw the bottle into the trash the next morning

about fucking time


[mvt. 4]

an interlude.

We laugh about it now — that glass he poured too full

the way her eyes would harden into ceramic every time he spoke to me

I pretended not to notice just like how I’ve learned to ignore the way his laugh is sometimes too loud too earnest

Every time we talk I learned a little more:

the size of the handle he downed (alone) when she called to end it all in mid-July

that one time he took enough coke to shake until all the bars were closed

how he used to smoke each day even before she was lost and how I didn’t know him well enough yet to tell if he were stoned or just quiet

I would have thought by now we would have drank and bitched and smoked it all away in vapor trails and rings


[mvt. 5]

a fragment. don’t expect much.

last night the three of us couldn’t even finish a bottle

I was upstairs by ten, packing a pipe in my bathroom

which must smell enough that I don’t even notice anymore

maybe they won’t be able to tell

if I am stoned or

just quiet