I wish I could revisit you on that Southern beach
In exchange for crystal clear mornings, I’d hold your hair back and count gold coins from your chest
But this working town peels away my skin like gloves from the calloused hands of a coal miner cursing his cancer and succumbing to the opium
I stand around naked, black to my toes, resigned to your memory’s baffling waste; I use up too much energy craving you, carrying you in my creased palms; I sleep too little
Your darling daughter comes around some mornings,
asks about you,
looks like you,
pretends that you and I are still on speaking terms and not on the far edges of a sinking iceberg, you caught below the surface, I foolishly clasping tight to the tip not yet submerged
I make the same mistakes every morning
Cut myself shaving, catch myself staring, calm my nerves drinking
I tie my shoes once, then twice, a third time out on the sidewalk
I forget your name in mixed company, me and anyone else
Some days I don’t even see the sun, up before dawn, down every second after
The stars take cover behind the silver-burnt puffs from the smokestacks, colluding in my banishment
I lay silently in pitch black

Come home, Carolina
No one lives forever, but you didn’t have to go and prove it