SEPTEMBER SONG
by Mike DeCapite

September’s time for a change. The year’s rolling anyway, you might as well roll with it. Sunlight outside my window. It lights up details in the room. Almost unbearably it holds them: the edge of a bookcase, a length of phone cord, a patch on the wall. And then it lets them go.

A five-gallon bucket of ice dumped under the bar, a pitcher of cut limes, a leaning tower of stainless steel mixing cups, bright wineglasses on the backbar, Midori, Amaretto, Galliano, a red rubber-nubbed BACARDI mat, a green stirring straw, ceiling fans turning, my face in dark reflection between bottles, a rolled bar cloth, a helix of coasters, a wrought-iron basket of lemons, a mirror near the door regarding glass brick, plastic palms, the million glass-brights like all the momentary dreams alive in here, the black plastic bin of orange slices, lemon slices, limes, onions, cherries...the way everything’s more interesting in a mirror...the blue glare of a cellphone...a black door marked PRIVATE...Betty Page on TV spanking women in black-&-white, their kittenish antics and scissoring ankles, Betty Page endlessly spanking and spanking, and the sudden roar of conversations...

I was here last night, sitting by the door, when a portly, fortyish man in an olive blazer and black turtleneck came in and sat at a table without getting a drink. Half an hour later a woman stepped through the curtains, looked at me questioningly, I didn’t move. She looked around and landed on him as he half stood up. Eventually he got them a couple of drinks. She was basically unhappy and he was basically selfish. You know a dead end when you see it, especially someone else’s. They were good for a polite hour and a half at most.

Tonight the same guy’s here again, same table. He must’ve taken out an ad. A lively redhead comes in, he stands up. This one I like. She’s glad to be here.

At Treat Street, the taxidermy bar, I’m outside for a smoke. Johnny Cash is on the jukebox singing “Solitary Man”. Leaning in across the shredded half-door to hear it. Cream-colored Cadillac parked across the street. You have only your broken life to rely on. No extraordinary hopes, no extra-physical warmth, only the exactitude of your life as it is, half drunk in a Friday dusk.

A mist comes down to street level. Haloes are coming, with cruciform glare. A pair of basketball shoes hangs from a wire. The hour should be blue but it’s only deeper grey. Behind me, Mexican music is playing. Melissa and Eric are finishing supper, I’m done with mine. A lighted bus has just gone by and sunk to a stop at the redlight, where it idles and exhausts. I can feel the mist on my face. You find yourself back in your life for a moment. Once again, it’s right where you are.

Now I crash down at home in a green swivel chair, still in my jacket, Townes Van Zandt, the piano chords like a cornfield at night. This is where I am. A liter of water, the insistent unwhining of the computer. I’m aging and absurd, disgusted with myself but a little delusional, too. We see ourselves in terms of potential and others see us as we are. Purple towel on the doorknob. I want to talk with a woman in the dark about nothing. Loneliness is not about what you can’t get but about what you can’t give.

All of a sudden, the other night, she and I were talking about how things have to change, we have to release each other. If there were another way we’d have found it in three and a half years. It was late when we said goodnight but I woke at 5:30 and lay there for half an hour as the triangle of sky between houses, overcast, became lighter, then I went to the gym.

I dried off at the arched open windows, looking out at the grey morning and the bay, and then at the concrete pier, at the vivid wet green moss above the water line.

I got a coffee and walked toward work feeling calm and coherent and a little released and then a thought of her was in my eyes and someone had a thumb against my windpipe as I carried my bag and coffee along window window window reflecting the same person as ever.

When someone loves you he or she is your witness in the world. That doesn’t go away. September’s waiting for you. September’s waiting in the morning like a horsetrack in the sun: dewy, long-shadowed, almost unbearably bright. Workouts are underway. Soft thunder of hooves and dirt clods. Autumn is coming, you’re back in God’s-light now. Go on, little darling, I’ll watch you at the rail. It’s all yours. Reinvent yourself today.

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