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Sometimes I feel the presence of the dead, only to convince myself later it was merely a shadow moving on the far wall of my desire to see beyond the curtain between here and there as if loss were merely a matter of waiting in a room for the return of love, a chance to undo or unsay, but no amount of time will bring back those we’ve lost because they never abandoned us. We abandoned them by staying alive. If I were to die my father said preparing his will and I wanted to say but didn’t, there’s no if about it. The only certainty is that life doesn’t last. We have a string of moments and move on. When my daughter stands in front of me, a grown woman concerned about my health, I remember the child and my hand on her forehead feeling the fever, a necessary excess of will spilling into the world, and I remember her diving into the deep end of the pool in a game of Gator, swimming along the bottom well below the bigger boys who tried to catch her, part of the game continued even now. And when my son lifts a giant wooden beam over his head and holds it while the other carpenters secure the ends, the householder stands with her arms crossed, eyes wide, momentarily awed by the magnificent strength of this one man. And every one… my daughter caring for patients in a small Botswana hospital, my son rehabbing houses after rehabbing himself, their mother designing a playground in unceded Mi’kmaq land, the carpenters, the householder, the woman laboring in a narrow bed, even the child swinging high in the air her shoes tied by love and pointed toward heaven will soon die and be forgotten. And then it’s dawn. Unexpected light comes through the window with graceful possibility. The distinct nothingness of my life suddenly seems glorious, a particle of dust dancing in the light beside eight billion others while outside, a boy glides by on a bicycle delivering the important stories of the day.
Michael Simms is the founding editor of Vox Populi. His latest collection of poems is American Ash (Ragged Sky, 2020)
Copyright 2021 Michael Simms