I have thought so many times of her beautiful hair,
and of how she lay in light like a rose after
and of how she moved in the world as though the world
and she perhaps the wind.
He held the gun to his temple and looked up at something
that might have been passing.
Then he said, I saw her once years later in this very bar
she came right out
of a broken juke box and sat beside me and gave me her soft
Welcome, she said, to the country of glass
Then he had time enough, looking straight
at me, to pull the trigger six times
and put the gun
away. How beautiful she was with that hair shining like dark
silver, he said,
like a nickel plated loss of meaning with six empty chambers
or a song you play and play
until the juke box breaks and the other customers depart
and the publican
locks up and switches off her bright green eyes.
And she said, so then he just sat there, remembering my hair and looking
right where he supposed I might be.
I had the impulse to touch his arm and make him cry out and shiver.
But what use? We lose everything, in the end, anyway,
everything we had and everything we didn’t.
I might have told him that
there is no bourbon in the afterlife, just as in life there is no place
our pitiful treasures, even when, like me, they don’t exist.
Sometimes, he said, I think she still talks about me. I can hear
sometimes, after hours when suddenly death’s memory leans
against the bar
and writes, My friend, my beautiful friend, in the dust
and there’s this semblance
urging an old truth toward the door, which, of course,