Boston

Boston
By Aaron Smith

I’ve been meaning to tell
you how the sky is pink
here sometimes like the roof
of a mouth that’s about to chomp
down on the crooked steel teeth
of the city,

I remember the desperate
things we did

    and that I stumble
down sidewalks listening
to the buzz of street lamps
at dusk and the crush
of leaves on the pavement,

Without you here I’m viciously lonely

and I can’t remember
the last time I felt holy,
the last time I offered
myself as sanctuary

*

I watched two men
press hard into
each other, their bodies
caught in the club’s
bass drum swell,
and I couldn’t remember
when I knew I’d never
be beautiful, but it must
have been quick
and subtle, the way
the holy ghost can pass
in and out of a room.
I want so desperately
to be finished with desire,
the rushing wind, the still
small voice.

About the Poem

“Boston” shows loneliness and a yearning for someone that is no longer there. The poem is about how empty and lost we can feel when we are missing someone and no longer able to find comfort in them. During these times, the world seems too big and vast and it feels as though we cannot find ourself. The speaker of the poem remembers back to how he used to feel and how what he used to do now only adds to how deserted he feels. In the poem, the speaker has lost a sense for who he is, saying how he “couldn’t remember when [he] knew [he’d] never be beautiful, but it must have been quick and subtle, the way the holy ghost can pass in and out of a room.” He doesn’t even feel like he’s living because the person he loves is no longer with him. The speaker is trying to find strength around him, but the city he’s in is not providing him with any solace. 

Although this poem is depressing, the audience is meant to be able to relate to it. Smith writes in a way that makes the reader feel the emptiness of both Boston and the space around the speaker without the person he loves by his side. The poem does not portray loneliness as a negative thing, instead, the audience feels the pain of the speaker and, if they have ever experienced a similar situation, is able to empathize with him.

We’ve all felt lonely in our lives. When I went to Italy for my dissertation research, I was alone and I remember how lonely I felt, even though I was surrounded by people. Ironically, I also went on a research trip to Boston, but I had a friend with me, so that was not somewhere I felt lonely. In fact, I had a constant companion on that research trip, but in Italy, I was all alone and knew no one. The loneliest I think I ever felt was when I first moved to Vermont, especially after a close friend died. I felt as if my life had fallen apart and no one could relate. Susan helped me through that period more than anyone. Even so, I felt a void in my life from the loss of my friend. The poem paints the feeling of missing someone in a beautiful way, so that while reading it, you can connect to the speaker’s pain and, for me, share in the speakers feelings of loneliness.

About the Poet

Aaron Smith is the author of two collections of poetry both published by the Pitt Poetry Series: Appetite, finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Thom Gunn Award, and Blue on Blue Ground, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Ploughshares and The Best American Poetry 2013. He is assistant professor in creative writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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