On the day I finally visited you
I forgot how to make the shower hot
as if some part of me
was denying myself that.
On the long drive out
an old yellow rose gone rampant
at the edge of an unreadable business
and the hot pink bougainvillea arching animal-like
opposite the entrance
to the place where you were held.
Tymon Dogg’s voice my constant companion on replay
in odd chorus with the directions bot
that in the coming weeks
would be another kind of replay.
How it could never wrap its artificial accent
around the last turn but one
reminded me of the sound
of my mother talking
with her mouth full of pins.
3 ’til 8
I dozed alongside you
while you slept
in the pages of a book.
People came and left
the room. I know that room too.
It has a view that’s none too pretty
and we’re not the first to think that.
It has a TV but there are only
so many moments
you can bear to watch
what it has to say and show.
There are scenes you turn off,
scenes so proximate in feeling
to what you’ve just been through
that they hurt your skin to see them.
Some visitors bring gifts.
Things that look preposterous
when you are high on the after-meds
and then soon become completely ordinary.
Later you can imagine these things
safely back into bags or on shelves.
Some bring only themselves.
It’s never hard to guess
who’ll be good at sitting close quietly
(this skill fairly hums off them),
who won’t care about the bad view
and the execrable telly,
or the smell of food
with everything good in it gone.
Someone asked what is down here
There is always that,
your allotted space,
the grave out on the Lower King
that nobody can take away,
not, at least, until
it gets rolled over for another’s need.
It’s unmarked the way you wanted it.
When people ask me why
I say I wouldn’t know.
Always, on the day
I get the itch to go,
the itch to just lie down
above you with the sky
above me pressing down on us both,
I find you flowers,
that still own some promise
in the way they hold their heads.
I love it that before your death
you had news of my arrival in the world.
In this way, through exits
and entrances, we are tied.
I intuit that you were unconventional,
that you wouldn’t mind the middling flowers
or my quixotic visits
or the weight
of the sky and me.
Easy there love
When the bride comes
it’s too frightening
not to make fun of her.
At first there’s a hush.
The crowd parts.
Look at her shoes, her hair,
her dress, and so on.
For those close to her
she is transformed
and they don’t like it;
don’t like the ways she carries
something of the divine
mixed in with something rotting.
So they make a start
at tearing her down,
first with cooing sounds
that begin to shrink her size,
then they seize her bouquet
when she throws it
and mug for the camera
holding onto the arrangement
mockingly, not understanding
what it really is they have
in their hands.
Easy, so easy, to take that
and her with it.
Easy really as emptying a vase
or burning the Christmas tree,
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 8, 2023 as "Four poems".
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