I should have known, the way the waxwings
whispered from the birch-tops. Or from
the seed-filled bear scat by the lake,
or how the ridgeline coyotes yipped,
as if to say: yo, watch your insulin. A visitor,
here I stand in the middle of the night,
blood sugar balking like it does on trips.
Six marriages I know are crashing.
I’m pissing sweet off his deck, waiting
for the meds to metabolize, thinking on
Rich, who broke his back trying to climb
Scotchman Peak. He’s better now,
and looking for a new ground man.

On cue, a freight train whistles,
passing Lake Pend Oreille, where he
told me his story in sunlight, pointing
at the mountains. The Milky Way
froths into the lake, or maybe the lake
froths up to the sky, a star-cloud wash.
Do we console the world, or does the world
console us? Finished, zipping up,
a last look up from the deck:
I remember a green balloon
that floated over the lake that afternoon,
its string low enough to still show,
and how Rich broke his story
to stare at it.


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