March Madness

— Peter Carroll

March Madness

She says the Sisters of Mercy
told her you can fall in a hole
but not fall in love. Maybe
they knew what they were talking about.
Maybe she does.
Every March I think of her.

She’s from Minnesota, still below
zero in March, with long bronze hair,
a farm girl who calls me Zeke—
Ezekiel, after a Puritan zealot—and bats
her baby blue eyes, confesses
every March she has an affair.

If I knew Greek mythology,
I’d have precedents. Through
twenty-eight days of February
I count catastrophe coming. Every March
the same thing, sometimes
with the same person, sometimes
for a single day, sometimes forever.

Long ago she said, Zeke
this year will be different
this year will be you.
I was young. I replied
this year will be different
because it won’t be me.

Her lips went white, cheeks red,
she swore a curse: Zeke, I’ll get you
some day. Some day in March.
And since, I wondered how
and when. As days lengthen
and light lingers, I smell tragedy.

This year March struck
like the invisible hand of a god
or the devil. Poor Zeke. Just as
my hormones leaped toward spring
I lay bolted to a catheter,
beyond remorse, beyond desire.

Yes, my doctor says it’s common
among aging men, remedied by
a slight procedure. I know better.
Years running away from fate comes
to this. How can anyone stop time?
Maybe next March will be different

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