Sitting around the firepit, I watch him pour
himself another glass of wine. My dogs play hard
and he talks about his son
and his son's mother,
how things broke, and how the five o'clock
martinis make the shift from writing to not
writing bearable. I watch him fill
his glass; the wine is red. The summer stars
stud the sky--rhinestones I might pluck from a dress
that feels too showy, stow them in a jacket pocket,
fingering them like dice at the party,
while the glasses fill and drain,
and I plaster on a smile because I don't know
what to do with my mouth if it's not full
of something. In the bathroom, I'll pull a few
from my pocket--are they stars now? or cheap gems?
place them on my tongue, close my mouth
and my eyes, before spitting them back
into my hand, the precious pieces I grip for protection.
While he wanders his present,
his history, polishes the bottle, I'm climbing the low lying
stars as a ladder, reaching up toward the Big Dipper's handle.