Gray Sock


Gray Sock

In dreams, so it's said,
If you give a person the keys to your car
And allow them to drive it,
It means you've given them
Charge over you.
You trust them
With all you are
And all you'll ever be.

I never let you
Touch my car in a dream,
But handed over my keys in real life,
In real time,
And you drove that car,
Fast and furious,
On the edge of danger,
As later you would drive my life.

You hugged me goodbye
In the dark that night
And went your way,
My heart and soul in the pocket
Of your old leather jacket.

I thought it was over.
Time to move on.
Post-concert let-down
Of the very worst degree.

I came in weary,
Left my things in the car
For my man to remove
And carry inside.

"What's this?" he asked me,
Minutes later,
And from his hand dangled
A man's gray sock,
The ghost of your foot
Still stretching it.

"It must've fallen from his bag," I said,
And wished
That I was lying.

No indiscretions were committed
On that narrow back seat,
No kisses stolen,
No pledges of love exchanged,
Yet my heart
Leapt in guilty delight
At the sight of that sock
In my man's hand.

If only!
Oh, if only!

Had I been the one to find that sock?

I should never have given it back to you,
But stowed it away amongst my things,
Unwashed,
To take out and caress
When I missed you too much.

Or on those nights
After we became workmates,
Whenever you'd been especially cruel,
I could've gone home
And taken it out,
Pressed it to my cheek,
Recalled
The way things used to be.

But,
Mad to see you one more time,
Not knowing where the future would lead,
I returned it to you
Two days later,
And the music you'd left behind as well,
And on the radio,
On the way to meet you,
My heart pounded out its foolish rhythm
In time with the song.

Robert Plant was screaming,
"Talkin' 'bout love!
Talkin' 'bout love!"

Then, when I found you,
You were with a man,
But I didn't see
What I ought to have seen.

(You were always with a man, it seemed!)

In two years' time,
Your feet
And socks
There still,
Standing,
With my bruised,
Beaten,
Bleeding heart
And memories
Beneath them,
"Trampled Underfoot".

***

C.P. Warner
22 November 1998


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