her infinite soprano
and my street drawl voicing words that could
depress a saint
What can I name my grief, again, today?
A nickel frozen in the sidewalk?
A tumbling paper bag?
Forget all the nonsense
about eyes opened or closed
or brain waves
mocking with an ache
that comes with leafdrop, woodsmoke,
and those shots of bourbon that ease
not a thing
Grandma lived to be ninety-three
and wore the fabric of that tale to a soft sheen
with her retelling. Where does the past lie?
In the middle of the night when he thinks
I’m asleep, Bill will weep without sound
shaking the bed like a curse at God
And my mother, who at her death
Called out to her sister Ozra,
Has not yet let go of
My own sister’s hand.
He is gone now, the blind man, tidily dressed
in a suit of dust, with a dusty tie and dark glasses,
who played the clarinet on Paseo Huerfanos,
the paseo of the orphanage…
You rise. You turn back to the room and repeat what you know:
The earth is not a home. The night is not an empty bridle…
I’m sorry,she said, but you look
just like my father. He died last month.
She found her cellphone
and showed me a photo that looked
as if I’d taken a selfie.
But what of the happiness they wrought?
Laughter around a table, flavor of onions
and mustard and salt, music to drown the sound
of his weeping. All the gods are fallen.
When his mind grew empty
and his heartbeat slowed to a vague stutter,
our father no longer walked the fields at night.