Named after crops that don’t make it.
The surviving grapes have won the fight against the elements.
Victorious, they bask in the sun
to the winemaker’s delight.

A punctuated Grenache,
its bottle had a label in black

and white,
with a pencil sketch
of glass broken into hexagons.

Shatter was big, round,
full in the mouth,
nostalgic in the swallow,
as winding
as a nineteenth-century novel.

No short phrases in that bottle — 
neighborhood lore.
And the painful
but understandable pauses
when you think back
to what you’re not talking about
and you’re staring into your glass,
your index finger circling the rim.

I came home at 2 a.m.
You were sound asleep in your bed.
I, your baby,
curled up between you and the wall.
I held your warm hand
and found a corner of pillow.

The next day you said I breathed heavily,
as one might after drinking too much,
that you kept your arms around me
and eventually fell back asleep.

Some said I should not have disturbed you,
that you were too weak,
and I said,
“She is alive,
we are alive,
and that’s how she likes it.”

I’ll never forget the warm space,
close, under the sheet,
to the inevitable.

Slow in my thoughts upon waking,
reading your looming departure —
a sentence that would never end.

The Wine Was Called is a poem in Sally O’Dowd’s collection Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss. It was originally published by Literati Magazine

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