Renege: A Story

He’s a renegade, it says so on his Jeep.
He’s a man reflective as fluorescent paint.
He’s proud of what he has: the talk, the walk,
the replica hair-shirt that a drunken saint
gave him one time for a cocktail and a song.
Reneging not an everyday complaint
in his world, he is flabbergasted when
she stops, says going further is a sin.

He says they both aren’t married any more
than when he’d said ‘Outside’ and she had smiled
and followed him from Tucson to the sea.
‘I thought you were a priest, then, one who whiled
away his inter-sacramental hours
enjoying beauty: temples, birdsong, me.’
‘I am,’ he said, ‘both priest and renegade,
but neither knows what motivation made

me speak to you in Tucson. Was I bored?
Were spirits from a bottle in my blood?
There is something in your beauty I adored
when I had feelings, and an ancient flood
of what you call emotion made me call
the first word out that came to me. That’s good.
Analysis prevents me, quieter days,
from any action. Can this be a phase?’

‘An undertaking, while the undertaker
still disappoints by hovering offstage?’
she asks, and sitting up, moves feet away.
‘You hanker for me, but I’m half your age,
and you were born already twice that old.
Perhaps I am the ink set on the page
and spine of books you substitute for life.’
But you, not I, said No.’ ‘Don’t twist the knife

I handed you,’ he importunes. She laughs
and moving further off, she cries, and stands.
And he stands too, relieved, again alone
inside his thoughts, until one of them hands
him what she wishes he would call emotion,
as he listens to receding angel bands
and knows the moment thought about has passed,
and that soulless resurrections cannot last.

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