Walter, Pierre, Tim, Howard

By on Oct 11, 2020 in Poetry

Four young men superimposed over mountain cabin

We had a good rain all night, their names crashing down
from the past. Thirty years later from up

here in this bedroom window, I see across the wide
lawn where everything in these gardens goes on
at such a fast pace… the lilacs,
peonies, roses. The new delight, purple phlox
blooming late in the cool mountain
air. For some time now I’ve not spoken

their names, young men who hungered
for the world they were losing, and what
in their leaving, they took. They died
without funerals. We gave away
their clothes to Goodwill, all of them we outlived.
At the time did not know how much we had yet
to lose in the AIDS epidemic.

On this ordinary summer day, you and I surround
ourselves with a cabin in the woods, a pug
called Ernie, all tokens of permanency. What

forced me to remember their names last night?
I suppose because it would take a blunt
act of excision to forget. These decomposing

flower beds remind me that nothing in this world
keeps, nothing but my memory intact.
Soon it will be evening, time to turn
over the compose pile, their names taking root
in the fertile matter of our years alongside each other.


Anthony Botti's poetry has appeared recently in Comstock Review, The MacGuffin, Cider Press Review, Caveat Lector, Clark Street Review, Old Red Kimono, Tiger’s Eye, The Rockford Review, and Peregrine. He lives in Boston with his partner and their pug, Ernie, where he works in health care management at Harvard University.