The Words of a Toast

by Denis Johnson

Denis Johnson

The man wants to make love to the crippled man's sister
because he loves the crippled man.
The man cries
beside the bed of the man who cannot breathe.

He stands in the parking lot, turning in the sun.
He says to the restaurant, I'm closed,
and to the sunlight, Why don't you arrest me?

But the spring changes so thickly among the buildings, the sun
brightens so sharply on the walls,
and the air tastes so sweetly of the rightness of things
suddenly thinking of his crippled friend: Oh, God,

you wanted water,
didn't you? and you with only tears for a voice.
What canI do now?
What can I do for you but drink this glass of water?

Last updated March 15, 2023