Rose Garden

The scent of roses drifted through the warm summer’s night air
as the moon climbed, filling the reservoir with light,
a cat wandered by, stopped for a moment
to get a pet and a scratch, then ambled away,
wondering, or not, why a food-guy was laying in the grass
above the amphitheater,  in the middle of the night,
Why indeed? Waiting for a liaison, to explain a decision
to say good bye, hoping she would ask me to stay,
to not enlist and perhaps go to a country that people didn’t know about yet,
or just to see her, one last time,
to lay on the grass next to each other, letting moonlight bathe us 
she came as promised, late as usual, parking on the road
at the top of the hill, walking past the cat, busy in the grass, 
down the gentle slope to where I sat, 
sitting down next to me turned putting her arms around me
a long hug, and strong kiss, before saying hello, I was lost in her arms,
I wanted to hang on, to not make this descent into friendship,
but she had moved on in the spring,
so I decided, in my despair,  to leave and go far away
the air force, the army, the navy, seemed like the best way
even though it was 1965 and there was war
tonight, tonight was saying goodbye, I was leaving
I wanted her to tell me to stay, but lost my words
expecting her to know what I needed , without my vulnerable-self  exposed,
without me having to say anything, to save me from myself
to make everything all right, but she didn’t
and we hugged for a long time as the moon went away
until the first golden light of dawn crept over the horizon
she had to go before her parents woke up, so did I,
we parted saying all the right things, vowing to write
but feeling the weight I expected to be lifted, settle deeper in my chest
I left the next day, flying to Texas,
leaving my home and friends,
starting a new chapter, with an emptiness I could not express,
it was August 1965, I wouldn’t return for four years,
during those years the weight never lifted

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