For Nicole

tree circles 4

By Bunkong Tuon

(After Raymond Carver’s “For Tess”)

My wife and I like to take walks
on the bike path along the Mohawk;
it is our dinner and a movie, our dancing
and drinking. Somehow, the dancing gene
never passed down to me, and the drinking
I tried many times before, just bored me.
On these walks we talk about the struggle
of writing a line in a poem, a conference paper
in Chicago, an email to a student about her grade;
and the rest pours out, like her uncle who left
graduate school because he didn’t like what he saw,
the lying and backstabbing, the pettiness of it all,
and that she needs to get the doctorate.
I tell her about my grandfather’s death,
how a twenty-year old kid sitting in a car wept
to some god-awful Britney Spears song.
There is silence between us.
I look to see that no one is in sight,
then steal a kiss on her warm cheek,
a peck, something light and quick—
the blurring sound of a humming bird.

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