In Bas Relief

Poem by David Masello

By the time you arrive, we’ve had a drink,
 
positioned our chairs for late-day
 
sun or shade in the brownstone’s garden.
 
Your feet, scored by sandal straps,
 
nails agleam like oyster-shell casings,
 
slip free onto my lap, into my grip,
 
where I knead them.
 
You leave no trace of your young scent,
 
despite the train rides from Brooklyn,
 
the walk north on Broadway in spring heat.
 
A Japanese maple trembles at the center
 
of our host’s plantings, its burnt-red leaves
 
in bas relief. I remember the tree a stripling,
 
tethered to a pole, expecting it to fail.