Sledgehammer Sestina: A Love Story
by Bryan Borland
For Seth. And for me.
February – you sit in the church parking lot, finger golden
lettering on your childhood bible, come alone again, tussle
nerves, open door, step out, pavement lightning
when feet hit asphalt, flip the switch, fake smile, lucky
to have practiced this act before, nod to Preacher, Brother
Kevin, keep repeating: God is love. God is love. God is love.
March is a sick lion, strangers’ germs, deceptive love
and a cough you can’t shake, so you daydream: Golden
Gate Bridge, Six Gallery, Ginsberg thought of his brother
and read “Howl” in public for the first time. The tussle
of ten years, the safety of secrets prolong illusions of lucky
stagnation, but there are cracks. Another boy glows: distant lightning.
April doesn’t bring rain, not like it should, as if lightning
and thunder, downpours and spring storms are reserved for love
and pain of summer, as if the grass, teased only with dew, is lucky
in its brittle and thirsty green, in its slow fade to washed-out golden,
then brown. You lock the bathroom door to prevent burdens of tussle
and sway, books stacked high, missing home, father, brother.
May ends in beginnings. Another parking lot, more nerves, Brother,
do you have a dollar? asks a man on the street, the lightning
of empathy hits so you give three. It’s the simple, brilliant tussle
of an idea, the smile imprinted, his glasses, the evident love
of poetry, the poetry of possibility like a blank page (golden).
Ask and he’ll say yes your gut tells you. Could you be so lucky?
June is three decades long. You fall this month, that lucky
accident of arms and ass, blue shorts you lend that fit, you brother
him, tell him so while every pulse through vein and brain is golden
and aches for more. You see a band, ask Are You Lightning?
but know the answer, swallow beer, drive home, wipe vomit, love
vomit because it came from him. You keep silent, this tussle.
July is when the gods turn angry. You allow yourself only a tussle
of his curly hair. You drink his eyes. You think yourself lucky.
You swim together. He climbs onto you. You stiffen, breathe, love.
You put your hands on his shoulders, hold him. You call him brother
when, really, you want to kiss him. The marriage ends in lightning
and thunder and that long-awaited downpour. Nothing’s golden.
August stretches the tussle of longing. Cain and Abel’s brother
war turns mutual confession, lucky circumstance, and lightning:
You’ve both waited. You finally kiss him. The moon is golden.
© Bryan Borland