Jack Gilbert, You Were Not Always Right
I was there, in Greece-at Monemvasia's waterfront- with only three cafés, two restaurants, four hotels. The cats crawled at our feet, waiting for crumbs as we played cards and the brown dog did not move once in six hours; we began to think he lay dead from the heat. The red checkered tablecloths covered the wood like a wound. Jack, your one light burned in the distance. I heard the rowboat. I heard the oars. I looked at my new husband as he sat across from me and played "sweep," mistaking his silence for satisfaction, his calm for contentment. I told myself that this was happiness yet slept fitfully under the mosquito netting in the room with an empty fireplace. It was July, Jack, and we hovered between leaving New York and visiting Athens-all ruins still out of sight. The bed was close to the floor and blankets taunted all the colors of Joseph's coat. I thought he loved me then. He never loved me. Just months before, he made promises he knew he would not keep. You were wrong, Jack; the sound of oars cannot make up for years of sorrow.
Jennifer Franklin (AB Brown, MFA Columbia) is the author of two full-length collections, Looming (Elixir, 2015) and No Small Gift (Four Way Books, September 2018). Her poetry has appeared in Blackbird, Boston Review, Connotation Press, Gettysburg Review, Paris Review, “poem-a-day” on poets.org, and Prairie Schooner. She is a co-editor of Slapering Hol Press. She teaches poetry workshops and seminars at The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, where she serves as Program Director. She lives in New York City.