Meeting for a Drink

by Brian McCabe


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Sitting quietly across from you, listening


I look into your face to try to get at the center of

your thoughts, that is, to pull up the root of your words—


backhanded, heard before— words you're using

again but now, I fear, have changed over time


over space—words that have grown some new

significance, I'm sure, after all your devoted loves


I'm left shakily exposed to the distinction between

what is said & what is meant, what is known


& what is guessed— your face, your words—& how

both will change over time over space


according to which I'm here to hear you out.




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Because you say you left home to find

a safer life, by which you mean safer love


past family, past intimacy, past devotion

the inability of which you too-soon find


is locked in fleeting time and dreams escaping

I am not lost or ungrateful, but silent still


because I was raised to treat love as air

the way air is a substance of this world


and in the things in it, with density and room

to change, to link together, to be joined over time


over space.  But the profligate are blameless now

Those who conflate sex and love the way


dumber animals mistake heat for light

have moved freely back to some primal zone



where if I'm felt to be contradictory to the

surroundings it's because I wanted that and


could you possibly understand that?  And

could you maybe untangle devotion from desire?


You tell me there's no light in shadows as if

the sole purpose of light is stimulating beauty


As if it's impossible to separate seeing from

wanting to be seen.  As a child


I looked up at night like a flashlight beam

pointed to the sky and my vision revealed those


archipelagos of light traveling over time over space

as each star had a life of its own, fooling infinity


in a way that reminds me, now, of the little islands

I discover in you.  Now with my face in my hands


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 I'm laughing because you told me, “Look down

 your shirt and spell ‘attic'.”  Looking down the table


between us reminds me I've yet to take a drink of my

beer and the foamy head has decreased to a thin


white film, which is, I guess, much like the day when

our years together will become a memory, dissipating


like the day when we'll have saturated each

other's lives as much as possible because words


once spoken and features once touched will, I know,

become insignificant, fleeting memories that


turn themselves over time, over space into bland

static, at which point we both will stand resolved.