Madison

By Nicholas Barton Law



I remember the dream I can only recall by remembering you were there too upon that star-shadowed hill where we first met, my companion of those days, my first love, when the chance of sharing your presence sent me running along the dark earthen lake paths, the stone buildings, and the sunlit ancient trees of the old university grounds, running barefoot, shirtless, completely out of breath, to find you, breathless, on State Street in that browned skin season of our youth. I’ve never ran so fast for so long, never felt so deeply into the deepest regions of my heart, nor forged so strong an allegiance to someone, as I did with you in that summer when love pulled us into its sunlit stillness upon the grass.


The memory of your sun curled brown hair, your brown eyes, your pensive smile, and the sound of your voice, amid the sandstone halls and Romanesque arches of the University, still haunts me today, with that answerless whisper from the darkened streets of long memory; "come back to me for I knew you then and have never forgotten what it meant to you, what she meant to you, and what you both were like then when you were here and young, and believed that love was everything and the only thing that mattered."


We walked the length of State Street (how many times a day?) escaping the summer heat in its air-conditioned boutiques and ice cream kiosks, lunching on pita and hummus at Greek restaurants, splitting plates at the Italian restaurants with checkered tablecloths, browsing the kiosks and used bookstores, and passing the loud bars with the public back entrances and ringing exits throbbing with flirting life. We sat face to face at tables on sunlit patios and shoulder to shoulder beside cold water fountains. We walked together familiar paths through the city in rhythms that echoed our lovemaking. We read books to each other in bed, our bodies touching, in a room by the lake where nothing intruded, not even time.


In the shower of our room, I rinsed the long, dark curls of your hair, losing my hands lost in its silky depths, amazed by the beauty of your body. I explored every ripple of you, every seam. I followed the slant of your hips down your smooth thighs to your sacred warmth with a curious tongue. I moved within you, and when I was not within you, I was all about you, fascinated, infatuated, intoxicated. When we were out walking in the city, I would stop in the middle of the street just to kiss you; I could not stop kissing you then, for your lips to me then were all the meaning of my existence.


Standing on State Street today, I see a young couple walking side by side, chatting away. Suddenly, he stops, turns to her, brushes the windblown hair from her lips, and softly kisses her. As they kiss, her fingers slowly lower to his hips and she slips a finger in the space between the lower buttons of his shirt. Then suddenly she breaks away from him as if disgusted and runs away several steps down the street. When he calls after her “Hey what’d I do?” she stops, turns back, and with a laugh, quickly runs back to his side. She takes his arm and places it around her shoulders. As they continue walking, she looks up at him and quickly kisses him on the cheek and flashes a smile for the whole world to see. Her smile seemed familiar to me, like something that was once for me in a summer long from me; something faraway and in a dream remembered.



 


Nicholas Barton Law is a poet living and writing in the Midwest.


He has drifted through classes at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, occasionally earning a degree.


He has hosted the Poetry Open Mic, a free community poetry reading, held at the Irving Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana.


As a poet, he seeks to reveal "the lush and shimmered beauty" of truth.


He has said of his work, "all my poems are love poems, even those that aren't."


He can be found on Instagram.