Fleet as we were,
we could not break free from the earth.
We struggled enough up hills.
It profited us little to project ourselves afar.
We focused on our surround—
oily asphalt, small bungalows in trees,
whose pattern along streets we couldn’t change,
just as we couldn’t change the season,
or the weeks or the days. Still,
we smiled when the run was over,
took a shower together,
our relationship swelling like an incoming tide.
I’ve heard no cure for the ailing self, ignited by
primitive desires combusting its engine, as youth passes in
I went on to do private work in my own space,
all those dark mornings when no one was up,
but I was hard at it, straying off the main path,
wandering down side roads, making a turn or two, enlivened by
the constant presence of death.
All of this happened long ago before you left.
Did you find that each new diversion
added its touch to your lovely ensemble?
Did you, like me, make course corrections,
when your route failed to engage your attention?
There’s no one more ideal to oversee you
than you, patient, sometimes harsh,
giving yourself over
to kisses and embraces,
playing yourself out, your steps rising and falling toward a
we couldn’t see from those summer runs.
Dale Cottingham is of mixed race, part Choctaw, part White. He is a Breadloafer, won the 2019 New Millennium Award for Poem of the Year, is a finalist in the 2021 Great Midwest Poetry Contest and has been nominated for the 2021 Best of Net. He lives in Edmond, Oklahoma.