I May After Leaving You Walk Quickly or Even Run
by Matthea Harvey
Rain fell in a post-romantic way.
Heads in the planets, toes tucked
under carpets, that’s how we got our bodies
through. The translator made the sign
for twenty horses backing away from
a lump of sugar. Yes, you.
When I said did you want me
I meant me in the general sense.
The drink we drank was cordial.
In a spoon, the ceiling fan whirled.
The Old World smoked in the fireplace.
Glum was the woman in the ostrich feather hat.
From The Best American Poetry 2006, just published by Scribner, via the American Academy of Poets' daily email.
My favorite line: “The drink we drank was cordial.” The pun on cordial is lovely and restrained.
I like the gap between the formality of the poem and the colloquial title: the placement of “after leaving you” is unusual but everything else about the title expresses passion in need of an outlet.
Then, the English-major beginning, “a post-romantic way.” I don’t know what it means but it immediately connotes a speaker who’s a bit too smart.
I love trying to imaging what the sign “for twenty horses backing away from / a lump of sugar” might be and then, the poignant hilarity of that image as applied to a really, really stupidly gun-shy blind date.
I’ve been on those dates—where, for reasons mysterious, the man you find so attractive seems to find you somehow a bit too much; where, the lump of sugar you offer looks, to his eyes, terrifying.
And yes, the best thing to do afterwards is often to walk away quickly or even run.