"Absinthe" - Collin Kelley

 
 
"Absinthe" - Collin Kelley 
 
 
I smuggled home the green bottle
before the planes hit, before your
luggage was strewn across tables
like an airport rummage sale.
All the way from a dusty shop
on a West End side street, wrapped
in a plain brown bag like pornography
or a wino’s favorite meal.
 
 
I do not remember how it smelled,
but we cut the bitter with the sweet
by pouring it over a sugar cube.
Certainly this vintage would not
transport us like it did Latrec and
those haunted women adrift in the
cafes of Paris.
 
But you see, I was already adrift
and I hoped this momentary hit of
wormwood would help me reach the shore.
Yet another boy has cast me out to sea
with no oars and not a lighthouse in sight.
If this shimmering emerald fire would
light the way, then I would drink the
whole bottle, let it run down my chin
and lick the bitterness of my scarred
fingers. They are tired of putting you
back together, I am tired of putting you
back together.
 
 
The absinthe has a delayed effect.
I am in the back seat of a car, becoming
one with the upholstery, swimming in
the louche.
I had three glasses, enough to open
a window of clarity and when you came
to the window I see you as everyone
else does and that you blur at the edges
and soon you will fade all together.
But once the drink wears off, I will be
back in the boat, lost in the fog,
the empty bottle rolling at my feet.
 

"Absinthe" originally appeared February 2012 online in Lily. Art: "Still Life With Absinthe," Vincent Van Gogh, 1887.

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