Howie Faerstein


Certain we’d never find each other

I crouched    on a grassy knoll

peered down    at steady traffic

This happened before branding

before cell phones & remix

before shuffling    sampling

When I lost my lover in Kansas City—

The week Maddy died of cancer

and I didn’t get to say goodbye

The week of Katrina

catastrophe in the Lower Ninth Ward—

two cars traveling from Colorado to Massachusetts

Let’s say she was fixed on losing me

but I only felt       great apprehension

More anxious than when I took

my daughter & her cousin     to the circus

in Madison Square Garden

Manhattan      the sleazy 70s

Exiting at Times Square

seven year old Jonathan

needed to pee         right then

Subway station bathroom

I held my daughter     scissored to my legs

Stood guard      arms crossed

in front of the open stall

It was rush hour      when we separated

Actually it was terrifying

And she had our dog!

My parents were born    in the Pale

A century later    I’ve surpassed them

as American children are expected to do

living beyond the pale

It’s been a gradual process

like the sea     taking back the land

I mistook her gray car    for a dozen others

The light was all wrong   & the sound

let’s say the sound was crazy

let’s say    louder than it had ever been

We’d left apricot trees     flourishing in scrub

flash floods in the arroyo     emus & forsaken llamas

street horses munched fruit    from overhanging limbs

dancing sandhill cranes     in the Bosqué

a polyphemous moth    brushed my hand

Beyond the Continental Divide

I understood    she wanted to stay with bison & mule deer

My heart    beating in my mouth

During mummification

skilled embalmers would discard the brain

and return the heart to the body

I felt myself drying up

When we lost each other in Kansas City—

A week after the Battle of Haditha

Another week of suicide bombings in Baghdad—

two cars traveling west to east

Behind the knoll      a once forested expanse

the wood sundered       slash piled five stories high

Maybe it was the outskirts of St. Louis where I lost her

Funny that I don’t remember

how we finally found each other

She must’ve seen me    pulled over

The rest of the drive    without incident

except a cop flagging me down    for speeding

jack-knifed semi by a truck stop

We lived in New England    for two years

Our house had wainscotting    a screened porch

and then

she headed back to Colorado

La Plata mountains

high desert

open spaces

HOWIE FAERSTEIN’s Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn, was published in 2013 by Press 53 and a second collection, Googootz and Other Poems came out in 2018. His work can be found in numerous journals including Off the Coast, Rattle, upstreet, Mudfish, Verse Daily, About Place, Nixes Mate, and Connotation. He is a poetry editor of Cutthroat and lives in Florence, Massachusetts.