Next Year

Next year, we said,
we’ll celebrate. There will be chocolate again—
and peace.

We’ll sleep entwined,
the tangled sheets, so satin-fine without a single patch,
and scented only with love.

Year after year, we said it–and believed—

and now,
there’s a chicken roasted brown
as you imagined on a gold-rimmed china platter,
at the table, there’s real bread—
with sweet creamery butter—
but tears salt my wine,
as I gaze at your empty chair,
and untasted, the meal we’ll never share.

For dVerse, Sarah has asked us to write a poem about “Valentines that didn’t happen.” So, I’ve gone all maudlin imagining perhaps some other version of my spy couple.

85 thoughts on “Next Year

  1. I loved your poem. The imagery keeps it from crossing the maudlin line. Have you read the book Western Wind by John Frederick Nims? It introduced me to the difference between sentimentality and genuine emotion in poetry. “Next Year” is genuine emotion.

  2. Oh, Merril. I’ve just read back to back books about the Holocaust – and this coming after that has made me cry. I think it was the butter that did it – those intense details show grief more than any tellilng can.

    • I’m pleased (and sorry) to have made you feel so much with this, Sarah!
      I also recently read a book–a novel–set during the Holocaust, and I think something about the Nazis eating butter while the local population was starving must have stayed in my mind.

  3. Such a hollow feeling to having something oneself that would have been twice as meaningful shared with love. You capture that lost feeling, of being bereft and alone in the world, in all your meticulous details. Infinitely sad, because we have all felt this, I think, or will. Beautiful poem.

  4. I am literally swooning right now 💝💝 this poem has everything .. from bittersweet ache to nostalgic moments that accompany the wine .. really beautiful writing, Merril!

  5. It can be all too easy to live for a tomorrow that never comes. Your conceit encapsulates the complexities of love’s promise and reminds us that every love story ends in tragedy (death).

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