Elvis at Chiang Mai
For Visa Thevaaksorn

In the photograph, we're leaning toward each other,
drinking whiskey in paper cups. Behind us a city of stone walls,
neon scrawled along the river, teak hills dark beyond.

He's their hero, you are saying. Folks who can't speak English
memorize his tapes
. Strips of black cotton hang
from courtyard trees. Five years exactly since Elvis died.

Near us, a man in a bartender's shirt sings Heartbreak Hotel,
his eyes insisting that he's lived there.
Those lyrics drifted through my childhood and I ignored them,
wanting love, when it came, to be perfect.

What I treasure is what the photographer misses
that moment when we finally let go and begin to sing.
Everything folds into our song. Of course it's love gone bad

and empty rooms. We're singing to soothe the kids,
your three on Phuket Island, mine in California.
We're singing to monks, street girls, soldiers up
at the Burma border, to the guys who polish sapphires,
breathing in that dust. We're singing our longing
for what we just might find with each other.


Poems by Sharon Fain:

Snowy Owl
Getting It Right
A Birth
Waiting for the Bear
Screen Saver
Losing the Drought
Isla Mujeres: Weeks Before the Breakdown
On Hearing Jack Gilbert Talk About Death
One Month at Casa Sotovento
Out on the Deck at Sirens
Waiting to Hear About the Biopsy
Elvis at Chiang Mai
High Desert
Letters From Sarajevo
On Seeing the Place Where I First Made Love

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets