Michael's Wine

Sandra Alcosser

 
Winter again and we want
the same nocturnal rocking,
watching cedar spit
and sketch its leafy flames,
our rooms steamy with garlic
and greasy harvest stew.
Outside frosted windows--
claw marks on yellow pine,
Venus wobbling in the sky,
the whole valley a glare of ice.
We gather in the kitchen
to make jam from damsons
and blue Italian prunes,
last fruit of the orchard,
sweetest after frost, frothy bushels
steeping in flecked enamel pots.
Michael, our neighbor,
decants black cherry wine,
fruit he ground two years ago,
bound with sugar, then racked
and racked again. It's young and dry.
We toast ourselves, our safety,
time the brandied savory
of late November.
I killed a man this day last year,
says Michael, while you were away.
Coming home from town alone,
you know the place in Lolo where the road
curves, where the herd of horses got loose
New Year's Eve, skidded around
white-eyed, cars sliding into them?
Didn't see the man until my windshield broke.
Could have been any one of us.
Twenty-nine years old, half-drunk,
half-frozen. Red and black hunting jacket.
Lucky I was sober. We stand there
plum-stained as Michael's face
fractures into tics and lines.
He strokes his wine red beard.
Michael with no family,
gentle farmer's hands, tilts the bottle,
pours a round, as if to toast.
It was so cold, he says,
that when it was over,
he swirls the distilled cherries
under a green lamp, there was less
blood on the pavement than you see
this moment in my glass.
 
From Except By Nature published by Graywolf Press, 1998. Copyright © 1998 by Sandra Alcosser. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Poems by This Author

Hats by Sandra Alcosser
Auntie lies in the rest home with a feeding tube and a bedpan, she
Sweat by Sandra Alcosser
Friday night I entered a dark corridor
Worms by Sandra Alcosser
Some days he'd rub two pegs together


Further Reading

Poems about Drinking
"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage"
by Robert Lowell
Driving and Drinking [North to Parowan Gap]
by David Lee
A Drinking Song
by W. B. Yeats
A Glass of Beer
by James Stephens
At the Blue Note
by Pablo Medina
Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
California Plush
by Frank Bidart
Compulsively Allergic to the Truth
by Jeffrey McDaniel
Dangerous for Girls
by Connie Voisine
Days of Me
by Stuart Dischell
Deer Dancer
by Joy Harjo
Deer Hit
by Jon Loomis
Fallen Apples
by Tom Hansen
Father Listens to the Artists
by David Petruzelli
Homecoming
by Robert Lowell
I Love the Hour Just Before
by Todd Boss
I taste a liquor never brewed (214)
by Emily Dickinson
In Knowledge of Young Boys
by Toi Derricotte
In Vino Veritas
by Howard Altmann
Jet
by Tony Hoagland
Joey Awake Now
by Glyn Maxwell
Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
My Papa's Waltz
by Theodore Roethke
Nights
by Harvey Shapiro
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
Parties: A Hymn of Hate
by Dorothy Parker
Picking Up
by Evelyn Duncan
Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey
by Hayden Carruth
Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump
by David Bottoms
The Bottom
by Denise Duhamel
The Drunken Fisherman
by Robert Lowell
The Eternal City
by Jim Simmerman
The Silence
by Philip Schultz
the suicide kid
by Charles Bukowski
The Summer House
by Tony Connor
Vodka
by Joel Brouwer
When a Woman Loves a Man
by David Lehman
Wine Tasting
by Kim Addonizio