Wish You Were Here

From Beneath Seven Full Moons

Kim Noriega

for Dave

 

Imagine from Beneath the Full Long Nights Moon

 

I was freezing. I’d refused to trade my black leather
jacket for a coat that would cover my pregnant belly.
The gusts from Lake Erie were bitter. You held
out a candle, to warm my hands by. That was the December

Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon. Despite the weather

we’d risked Route 2 in Bob’s rusted-out shell

of a Volkswagen Beetle to get to the vigil
downtown on Public Square. In November,
Rich had left me—nineteen, unemployed, unwed,
and pregnant—for that bitch, Sandy, who looked
like Ursula Andress as Catwoman. I’d decided to keep

the baby. You helped me move to my parents’, said

Rich wasn’t worth my spit, painted my sister’s old room

moonglow white and sweet Georgia peach.

 

Rocket Man from Beneath the Full Flower Moon

 

Do you remember May’s perfume counter? Lilacs in Bloom

Eau de Toilette? I’d coax you within reach—
I swear, I promise —spray you till you’d reek,
then run like hell. You’d feign outrage, boom:

god damn it, Kim, and laughing, give chase, dooming

yourself to years of such abuse. Or your role as Peter,

the goat herder, in the Butternut Ridge Theater
debut of Heidi, Girl of the Alps? When your two

goats (distracted by squirrels) charged off barking,

I nearly peed my pants laughing. You just played along.

Clear nights, I’ve imagined you, eye
pressed to your telescope aimed at the stars.
You wanted to be a rocket man—Neil Armstrong.

I wanted to be Emily Dickinson, or Harriet the Spy.

 

Heartbreaker from Beneath the Full Wolf Moon

 

I wanted to be Emily Dickinson, or Harriet the Spy,
till Richard Miller came back from Kentucky in eighth

grade, then all I wanted to be was Richard Miller’s girl.

 

Us and Them from Beneath the Full Harvest Moon

 

Every Thursday, my dad hauled the trash
to the curb at precisely four o’clock, which
is how I know the exact time that Rich first put his lips

to mine. You’d gone home to crash.
Rich walked me to my driveway, then brashly
took my face into his hands and French-kissed
me, right in front of god, and my dad, who flinched,

then, without a word, lined the cans
up on the curb and walked back to the house.
I felt the world go tilt. Then Rich kissed me
again and the equation of our friendship
grew complicated. There was the three of us.
There was you and Rich. There was you and me.

There was that kiss. There was me and Rich.

 

Shine On You Crazy Diamond from Beneath the Full Strawberry Moon

 

Rich was a lit match looking for gasoline,
of which there was plenty in Cleveland, in the late
’70s. He wasn’t on the spoon yet, but he ate
LSD like candy. Jim Beam boilermakers and 714s—
his favorite breakfast. He'd managed to stay clean
in military school, where he’d spent 10th grade
at the City of Olmsted’s request that he leave the state—
or go to Juvenile Hall—for possessing and dealing PCP.
His transformation? Miraculous. Straight A's,
climbing rank. His parents were ecstatic. Banishment,
he'd said, was just what the doctor ordered—a second chance.

How could I have known those were the last bright days?
We visited him on family weekends—savoring, not innocence,

but that costly freedom—the bliss of ignorance.

 

Time/Eclipse from Beneath the Full Pink Moon, West 52nd & Franklin

 

Rich hardly drew a sober breath, couldn’t keep a job. I kept my

(loaded) .25 stashed beneath the front seat when I drove home
after late-night shifts as an upscale pizza slinger. My folks
watched the baby. (I picked her up on days off.) Those were dark side

of the moon years. Still, I believed the proverbial light

at tunnel’s end was right around the corner. We had no phone,

which made my promise to never again call you in tears not (so)

hard to keep. But sometimes, listening to the crickets’ night

song, sitting on the porch with Leiha, I’d wonder if somewhere,

listening to crickets too, you were gazing through your telescope,

thinking of a reckless girl you’d once called friend. Before I

took him back, you and I had talked about renting a house together,

with lots of trees, a big backyard, someplace to jump rope,
and out front—a smooth sidewalk where a little girl could ride a bike.

 

Wish You Were Here from Beneath the Full Snow Moon

 

When you told me, No more tears on this shoulder at 4AM,

I believed you. Vowed I’d never again bring my grief
to your door. How could I have foreseen
the distance this would bring between us? That decades

would pass before I’d see you again? Dave,

when I sent you my poems, I never dreamed
they’d cause you pain; could not conceive
of you not knowing about the holes in my walls in the shape
of his fists. You say you should have known about those dark
times
. Say you left when I’d needed you most—have regrets.
I say, you befriended the sad-eyed girl that I was, came into my
life when I’d needed you most. You say I’m your inspiration, a star.

I say, make a wish on me, my dear old friend. The air is redolent
of lilacs in bloom, the moon is a sweet Georgia peach in the sky,

 

and I still refuse to give up my black leather jacket.

Kim Noriega is the author of Name Me, published by Fortunate Daughter Press. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including: American Life in Poetry, Paris-Atlantic, and The Tishman Review. She was a finalist for the 2016 Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize. Kim grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and still loves apple-blossom showers in spring and Hungarian nut roll at Christmas. She lives in San Diego where she heads the library’s family literacy program.