At a parent’s wake, November 2017
You arrive, as at the unfamiliar railroad station
Through which your own memories pass
As the luggage of real people, familiar but
Changed by all the time they have spent
Away from you. Sometimes one of the people
Will reach into their backpack and bring out
Their own memory of your parent, showing
Something you have never known. Then,
As real people do, they leave the station for connections
That will take them to their own lives again.
Your line does not move. Outside, swallows,
Those early summer infidels, bank with reckless
Accuracy against the momentum of all the invisible
November hymnal (8) / for Doris
Here in the dead center of autumn
Comes the voice on the phone.
I am outside of the house, outside
My father’s Explorer, on the side
Of a hilly street I call home. I was
Looking at the library across the lawn
Across the street when I heard the words
She was dead. Just then, as I stood
Inside nothing. And the past was past
Me, like a car on its way to the library
Traveling too fast on a neighborhood
Street past a standing man, nothing
More than a pellet of the present, on
a bleak night’s road beneath which the miles
Spin and the signs have gone dark.
I’m collecting my life in quarters.
Every year a bit of alloy. In my palm
A pile of tiny time machines.
Some I have kept close:
A single moonbeam, a summer
Alone, a goat, a glimpse
Of what won’t dissolve
Even when devalued.
I’ve tried to ignore the years
When you forgot my name
And then your voice
And then your self
Because there’s still no coin
Of a realm where you’re gone