Do you remember? The night we sat outside
the small café,
drinking lattes by the light
of a dozen giant stars and gazing at each other
as Sinatra drifted through
the air across ragged cobble stone streets.

You told me the other buildings looked
sinister beside our small,
golden haven and you held my hand, pale
against your coffee skin and sang “That’s Amore,”
the notes wrapping
around me, sinuous snakes of air,
even though you can’t carry a tune.

Passersby in long coats
to guard against the cold we couldn’t feel
stared and coveted as our hands
entwined in a private dance,
fingers curling around and around
until I no longer wanted to know
where you stopped
and I began.

You called me beautiful that night;
you said
the stars burnished my hair silver in their fairy
light, and my eyes glowed
like dark sapphires, like the sky.

Then years later when the coffee had grown cold
and the songs
had shriveled on the tongue,
you said nothing as we signed papers side by side
in silence.

I went back there once, to the place
where we fell
in love
and sang a song under my breath,
alone at a table with nothing to see
but dark buildings and the cloud of my voice in the air.

Keri-Jon is a twenty-three year old student with a husband, two jobs, extracurriculars, and a minor dose of crazy. She's a fledgling writer and a champion reader.

This poem began for me in a creative writing class taught by Amanda Skjeveland. I'd been playing with ekphrastic poetry when I came across Vincent Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night, and the color and life in the painting moved me to write. As I neared the end of the piece, I realized I didn't see a happy ending within the painting; I kept picturing a person holding on to the color and texture of a past that's faded away. It left me feeling haunted, wistful, and a little bit jaded.




Copyright 2009