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Shoulder to Shoulder on the Long Ride Home

Lucinda Williams

Side 2 Track 4

You wait in the car on the side of the road

We were at it again, driving up I-95

from Port Royal, the same talk we’ve had

for years, in bed, on the couch, almost

always in jest, teasing, knocking shoulders,

as we walk down the dead end road,

the two of us like kids trying to find out

the other’s secret, each smirking into

the shadows of a long long life together,

both of us knowing we should say

You should find love after I’m gone,

but when the chatter and the flirting

end, and air grows still, somber, aspen

leaves quaking behind the ferns, voice

warbling soundlessly in the speeding car

before the unholy words spill out:

I hope you never find love after I’m gone.

I hope you grieve my loss into eternity,

overlooking in that shameful moment

the desolate truth that eternity goes forward

and backward, that there were others long

before we were we, those we pledged

undying love, when we were so young

we knew nothing of how time works

on the soul, no notion of how a long love

alters the mortal moment forever, so even

as I offer up this confession to you staring

at this once blank page, behind a latticed

screen the celibate St. Paul created

in composing his imposing Corinthians:

I find no comfort, no succor, no pleasure,

no sense of redemption in the selfless wish

for my beloved to find love after I’m gone.

Nor remorse for having said it out loud.

—SL, New Paltz, NY, June 2022

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