The You You Were; The Flowers on the Boat

The You You Were

I dreamed of you again last night,
though you’ve been dead these twenty years
to me, and in the dream you were
again yourself. But is that right?
I mean the you you were before
you became you, the you you were
to me. Which was more true, the real
or the ideal, the you you could
have been? The you you’d never be?
The you who shadowed you always,
who, when we met, you still, back then,
would try to shake, or give the slip,
as if it were a test of wits,
as if it were a game you still
might win. Was that because of me?
Why, when, did the balance shift?
Was it a doubt you saw, or placed,
in me? Were you afraid I’d see
the shadow you was the real you
(or did you really want me to?)
and that the you you showed to me
was nothing but a you you had
dreamed up to hoodwink me?

I think
you never doubted you’d be caught,
like any liar, any guilt
which knows it shields a criminal,
and jumps at every noise and knows
that everyone suspects and that
the law is closing in. And as
for me, I was the law, I see
that now. That’s who I was to you.
And as for me, the me in whom
you saw another you, the you
someone could love, someone like me,
the me who was invincible
to me, the law, the mirror whom
you chose, whose true regard you scoured
the surface for and then ignored
as superficial, false, distorted,
because you saw I saw through you
to you, a you in whom no one,
not even me, could help you to
believe, I was no match for you.

And there you were again last night,
the you who didn’t survive in spite
of me, in spite of everything
still summoning me to that game
no one could win, a different sort
of game, and old, game me, dreaming
games could be won, still dreaming who
you could and who you couldn’t have been.