Elvis at Chiang Mai
For Visa Thevaaksorn
In the photograph, we're leaning toward each other,
drinking whiskey in paper cups. Behind us a city of stone walls,
neon scrawled along the river, teak hills dark beyond.
He's their hero, you are saying. Folks who can't speak English
memorize his tapes. Strips of black cotton hang
from courtyard trees. Five years exactly since Elvis died.
Near us, a man in a bartender's shirt sings Heartbreak Hotel,
his eyes insisting that he's lived there.
Those lyrics drifted through my childhood and I ignored them,
wanting love, when it came, to be perfect.
What I treasure is what the photographer misses—
that moment when we finally let go and begin to sing.
Everything folds into our song. Of course it's love gone bad
and empty rooms. We're singing to soothe the kids,
your three on Phuket Island, mine in California.
We're singing to monks, street girls, soldiers up
at the Burma border, to the guys who polish sapphires,
breathing in that dust. We're singing our longing
for what we just might find with each other.
Poems by Sharon Fain:
TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets