She adored rhododendrons & the festival
dedicated to them.
Imagine each lung
is a sponge said the pulmonologist
bearing the shiny frown of his profession.
She smoked those new long cigarettes,
brown as the cigarillos Lee Van Cleef
caressed in Spanish Westerns.
harbored an embolus each, clots among
the biggest everyone who’d looked
had ever seen.
Many adored (or envied)
the waist-length fall of red hair she wore
in a loose braid the most ferocious
days that summer, damp, darkened strands
clinging to her shoulders, neck, the fragrant
muslin blouses I daydreamed lifting
past her upraised arms.
Out of nowhere
I kept saying, though the clots had meandered
north from a hot, throbbing leg maroon
as raw beef.
slavering stags pawing every parking lot,
carousel, boat ramp & smoke-choked room
at which she so much as glanced, she’d smile
the sort of smile that in bad novels
is said to “say” something fecund
My tongue still melting
the glorious savor of hospital peach pie,
treatment protocol jotted on the whiteboard,
a tube transporting blood thinners via saline
into my sui generis left arm, I could hardly
be more happy.
The festival happened
at the height of the season. She heard
her first dobro there. A slide guitar
with a Spanish accent she said. A grown-up
mandolin I countered. I wish I could say
she smiled a smile that said I love you,
you big slob but alas, we kept strolling
the perimeter of a picnic in summer’s last heat.
John Repp grew up along the Blackwater Branch of the Maurice River in southern New Jersey and has lived for many years in Erie, Pennsylvania. Broadstone Books will soon publish a volume of selected and new poems entitled The Soul of Rock & Roll: Poems Acoustic, Electric & Remixed, 1980-2020.