charlie's poem
I remember the way you walked
because I liked watching
the sweeping stride of your long legs,
the certain movement of your hips.

You had opinions on everything
and then
flinched away to avoid being hit
when you accidentally dumped all my Elmers.
You stood unbelieving
while I started wiping up
as though it weren't a big deal,
and I wondered what had made you so tough,
so fragile.
You let me hear your aches after that
and I hurt
for things I didn't let myself understand.

In memory you're a stray cat
swaggering down an alley
daring all dark corners to try you, just try,
who's been kicked so often
she jumps into battle posture
without noticing something's changed,
who looks scornfully at saucers of cat-pate
left for softer beasts,
who chooses the toughest pigeon
for the familiar challenge.

It's been years.
I wonder how it went.

--lja for charlie, valerie faust
who I knew in college

1 sept 95
linebreaks modified 28 dec 95
pared down a little 4 june 97

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