I Don't Know How the Nights Can Be So Long When Life Is So Short

by Jerry Ratch

I will always remember that

picture of you in your

bright blue summer dress,

with your arms spread out

against a wooden fence in

Central Park.


Your thin body leaning back,

and long dark hair over

bare arms, like tattoos.


I remember how you took my

heart in your red mouth

like that hawk on the

Met Museum skylight

and ate it entirely,

soul and all,

before the astonished

faces of a whole class

of school children.


You will never know how

much it hurt when

someone else

touched your face.


But I know how much you

counted on others

to pull the slivers

out of your heart,

and that you were better at

shaving your legs

than you were at

spreading your wings.