Firstly, I should say that just fer the sake of it, I enjoyed this...the meter darted and turned, the story had a beginning, middle and end. The first three stanzas have the cars echoing the thoughts; the long lines :- for I asked myself if I was in his shoes :, Short lines :- Who the hell cares about this little ploy ; subtle and just enough viscerality to make it intimate. 'My heroics have always been such a myth' - not just a cliffhanger, now introduced, the quandary becomes that much more important.
The next two stanzas resonate with, probably most men: the 'black Ford' sets this up as something that means more to man, and 'All the little boy boy wanted for Christmas was to be loved' is smirk-inducing. What's more, the Rive Gauche moment is alluded-to if one reads the poem a second time, in the first line - 'Gone unnoticed by those who lack the emotional chord' - which I read as virtually any man who sees a girl heading towards her tipping point...with the key to the stanzas being the almost silent 'I could not resist', and for good measure 'I pulled up...next to him'.
So the next two stanza are a shock. The images are fighting, crying and killing - and killing 'already dead' flowers. Which one don't tend to find much in Winter; it's a factual inconsistency what makes one pause, but not enough to interrupt the reading. Coupled with the idea of a 'moat' and one has to wonder what exactly is going on here? The next two stanzas describe stress, praying for death, being mad at the situation - while the boy is happy as clams; these aren't two people growing closer together, there is discordance and dichotomy. This is not yer average happy story and now they're stuck in a car together.
Confused? by this point, the 'perfect present' seemed a wry title. The following verse is happy, qualified only in that it is just for that one night. The next verse leads you up the garden path, so-to-speak, 'looking into each other's face' - to see a 'vase'? Vases are fragile...and empty. After this point, there are a lot of lines to read between and I couldn't say with certainty if there even are double-meanings. I would, however, refer readers to the poet's work entitled 'That One Friend'. If the two are related, then one of them may be true, which may make these 'divorce papers' - again, I enjoyed the intelligence, the story was conjured into meaning - if only my 'darkened past' wouldn't be so much the same dry myth.