Poem in Which He Mixes A Drink In My Head

He had a drink problem, he said,
as we stood absolutely in the same place in the world
and at exactly the same time – he said that too,
bottle of Czech beer at his lips, geometric stars on his shirt.
I knew I wanted that problem in my head,
stirred in cocktail stemmers over cracked ice.

And so it came to pass: he milked
the juice of a lemon into a tall glass,
stacked a spoon of sugar, decanted a jigger of whisky
and sluiced with cold soda water;
sometimes he dressed with a cherry slice.

Was it him or the drink that mixed up
time and elements
so that sunlight dolphined
the leafwhelmed rivers of sycamores
even in insomnia. The mattress, fat

against the drizzled railings wasn’t dumped
it was part of the universal grid
that connects our wanton hearts;
its fawn stain was a signal
for the abandonment of self.

But that’s the thing with a good drink,
soon everyone wants one: the shaker,
the bitters, the very pith of him.
He spared the glass swizzle,
grabbed the rye
and the scent of green as leaves darkened to August.

I incline my head to the left, pour
and siphon off the dregs,
I funnel them through my ear,
twist the lid, shake it,
and here it is, in my hand, effervescing.

Alison Winch

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