Left Unguarded

By Shawn McCann, student, Syracuse Unit

April 8, 2013

I sat beneath the sway of a dim barroom light,

tucked safely away in the corner, with nothing but dead space,

and a door to the unknown world stretching out behind me.

I watched her working underneath the lights running above the bar.

She was dressed entirely in black,

with every fiber of every thread shaping her design.

From around her neck hung layered shapes the color of wheat.

The same could be seen hanging from her ears, just a little obscured,

concealed behind the dark forest of her hair.

She moved in between the gradual accent of distillery

and furtive eyes glazed over with thirst.

Untouched by the hands of phantom ownership

she settled on the slump-over specter which was me.

In the hush tones bridging the gap between admirer and admired

we talked about the limitless longing of human desire.

With word after word suspended in the clamor of the barroom night,

I told her she was nothing more than “disarming.”

And she, with the youthful eyes of a seldom seen truth,

walked away to the opposite end of the bar,

the word wedged between us in silence.

I suppose I could have told her that her eyes

were the glimmer and calm sailors dream by;

or her face the obsession of imperfect painters;

or her laughter  the melody dividing darkness;

or her body the supple wish of lonely hands;

but my problem would have been to what point and to what end.

Similar things have been said, equally trite, equally dead.

After a few moments, moving with the ease that brought the word

to the surface in the first place, she made her way back to me,

voicing her displeasure with the word’s ambiguity.

Reassured it wasn’t intended to be adversarial,

and that it lay in the substance she couldn’t see, but always offered,

she frankly said “I don’t care, I don’t like it.”

But in the end, after everything was said, it really didn’t matter,

she just simply walked away with my last defense dangling from her hand,

leaving me alone and unguarded,

and the light above my head no less dim than when the conversation first started.

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Shawn McCann

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