Poetry - Issue 19 | December 2013

Three poems by Emma Aprile

After We Left the Night Bus

A beautiful blue-eyed boy swiped a pub glass for me
as we walked home. If we’d been stateside in June’s four a.m.,
we’d have walked in deep, dark midnight light, but so much
farther north, where the night buses we’ve all seen in pictures
run overgrown teenagers & middle-aged cleaners

home in rounds of movement slowed with drink or work,
dawn was already starting to break, creeping
up over Wimbledon Hill as if we were responsible
adults, not walking home from SW19’s sole night bus stop,
but headed off to work our early shifts at desks or shops. 

In that latitude’s half-light, grey-blue & washed out
like my childhood’s late-night television shows,
we paused at a pub’s red door, there at the bottom of the hill,
our lengthy walk lying ahead along that empty suburban lane,
night’s last dark just reflected in the door’s small panes

& their leaded glazes. Did I, too nervous to touch him,
say how charming the scattered pint glasses looked, how
back home we didn’t have those abandoned selves
strewn about, still nursing their dregs—how we
weren’t allowed to finish a drink after hours, legs

outstretched into a dispersing crowd? No lingering
over a last half, no glasses set on sills or on a bar’s stone
threshold until barkeeps opened their doors next morning
& gathered them up. I must have said something, but
so many days intervene—half my life again—& I’m not

sure which memories to believe. A car swanned by, wearily,
in the left-hand lane. Certainly by then I knew to look both ways,
but backwards. I’d remember if he’d taken my hand, the weight
of it, where we said goodbye. The last gasp of night turning
blue behind the houses. Splash of a glass, emptying. What I learned.

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About the author

Emma travels whenever she can find a good excuse. She has tagged along on trips to Great Britain and Hawaii, and she admires a good beach jaunt as much as a week in a big city. Her work can be found close to home in The Louisville Review and anthologized in The Beach Book.

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