A drink to you my friend
To the windward air that seems to ruin you.
You told me of your westward march
Across Europe you said.
Which Army? I asked
"I’m Canadian," is what your tethered mouth reported,
Dry with a frozen smile that wrapped around your every word
and I thought you were insane.
So. The Canadian army, I intelligently queried
but you said you were not sure.
Maybe American is what I think you said next,
but it was hard to tell the words emerging from that frozen smile
Each word bitten and spat upon by the cold museum of your taut, strained face.
"Stop!" says your curator, alerted by an escaping word.
His chasing smile hounds each of your thoughts, and he knows about your flinching face
Knows about cuts you suffered at your ankles
Escaping into another country
And suspects he can use them as his next piece.
Maybe I’ve got it all wrong
None of your words made sense of course,
other than the course of your words through my heart,
Which told me of a pain I could never understand.
You drove horses through me with your words
Winds from horrified generations
And I made you laugh at them, didn’t I?
Somehow, your locked jaw, which had been soldered shut for generations,
Broke open upon my jokes
And made me feel for one moment that
I could contribute one tiny positive atom to your cause
One moment of peace to that old, broken soul.
You twitch often, my friend, this I know
You were sold long ago along the river of
Which is now over.
Then I ask the dramatic question.
Was your quest before, or after Ceausescu?
After, he says.
The quest somehow changes in my eyes.
It was about a woman, he says.
It always is.