Sebastian Matthews

Ian at the Waiters’ Party, Out Behind the Barn, Bread Loaf

for Patrick


We watch him as he climbs the ladder of drunkenness
and falls off. Laughing, we help him to his feet.


“You’re Assholes #1 & #2,” he tells us
gleefully. “You’ve disappointed me greatly.”


The night before he presided over our debate
with raw, easily spurned grace, mockingly


demanding that we choose: Dylan vs. Joni.
Stones vs. Beatles. We kept switching sides. Later,


in the slowly tightening clutch of revelers
out behind the barn, we see Ian circled by young men


in beards and farmer caps, back on their heels,
hands around cups of beer or hitched in pants.


He is radiant in their casual attention, rising
to the night’s last level of inebriation (maybe


though there are further rings), telling a story
that is really a joke, a joke that is also a story


of how the stars hide, like locusts, in the earth, only
coming out when called forth by the flute of the moon.


I leave before you, sometime after 1—“late”
I am told “for a new father,” which is just a polite way


of saying old. When I step out of the light, brushing past
the building’s shoulder, I catch one last glimpse of Ian:


listening to a woman tell another story, or the same
story, arms folded over chest, a smile opening his face,


moths like stars flying out into the night.



“Ian at the Waiters’ Party, Out Behind the Barn, Bread Loaf” was first published in 7Carmine.