The Last Time I Saw Dido

by Dave Lucas

Dave Lucas

I had just taken her photograph.
Everyone else crowded on the back deck,
talking, flirting, admiring the silver
of sunset in their drinks. It was still
summer, all the dresses light and loose
in the breeze, and in that warmth
I thought for once we might all want
to stay in our bodies, even those of us
who feel ashamed sometimes undressing,
who hide ourselves from our own lovers.
She is off-center, out of focus, her face
tightened as if—but who can know—
None of us could know what would happen.
It wrecked us, yes, but we were not surprised.
Even tragedy had lost its power to shock.
This was neither the time nor the place
to say the human heart is unknowable,
or that to such a man a beautiful woman
is a quaint coastal city—lovely, forgettable—
between him and the empire to come.
I went inside to help with the dishes.
On TV, bad news from a long war.
I watched her from the window, standing.
She did not like photographs of herself,
although we all thought she was beautiful,
as autumn is, golden and momentary.
Someone said we should build a bonfire
now that it was dark. I went over to her
to take her hand, and a fresh wind swelled
and bustled her sundress like a sail.

Last updated November 20, 2022