NEW YEAR’S EVE IS THE HARDEST
By June he was done and done with politics and painting.
He couldn’t care less where he’d dropped his KGB card.
The shame at being blacklisted only sped up his breathing
two or three times a day. He took his time walking
home from the train. His drinking was mostly silent.
Sometimes you indulged his glances, filled the tank
and drove him to Kiev at sunrise. By August his glances
stopped. In October, the ambulance never came.
Now almost 75, you invite sideways glances
in hardware stores, purchasing spray paint cans.
Everyone knows the abandoned building you keep
covering with graffiti, the building he was obsessed with
for reasons no one cares to find out. Week after week,
you replicate his paintings on flaking walls.
Every few weeks, the cleaners wash them away.
When you visit us, you gasp in the middle
of holiday dinners. New Year’s Eve is the hardest:
for twenty years he’d tell you, “This year will be different.”
I used to throw wine bottles for my own reasons,
broke my fair share of doors. Now I mostly listen
to your breath through the wall of the guest room
and secretly clean the snow off your car each morning.