A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Came home from that war trailing death like ground fog.
Wandered summers, did trim carpentry in Texas, bartending,
landed in Memphis working for a marble mill
where with old Thomas (eighty, born of a slave child)
I cleaned fancy mausoleums of rich folk in the graveyard.
Where old Goldmouth had leaked down from his coffin
and stained the marble I’d sand and clean
and make brand new and after, go home
to the rooming house and pull my quart of gin
from the toilet tank where I hid it from the crone
who took the rent and snooped.
Some memories are like those songs that get stuck
in your head and won’t leave.
I thought I’d write it out and kill it off.
But what did it was turning seventy-one last year
and thinking about how the lights
are going out behind me and catching up.
Who’d want a tomb? Some place where those
who probably hated old Goldmouth still come,
pretend to do homage and instead look both ways and spit.
I thought about how we cling to the self:
a grave where others come to remember you,
a place to have a name and presence still.
And I thought how clean are ashes and how fine
to have them flung somewhere out in the field where maybe
you fell in love, and gave your best, for all the wildflowers, yes.
copyright 2015 Doug Anderson