You unfolded the instructions like a bedsheet
And smoothed out the words with your palm.
First we identify all the parts, you said
To find the thing that’s missing. Or things.
It’s hardly ever just one thing.
The tools in the instructions, you pointed out,
We’d never seen before. Might have to make
Them out of scraps of other things we have.
Eventually that toolbox will have everything you need
but for now we just need a level and some sandpaper
So you can sand this grief to a shape that fits
the frame. Of what, I said. You read from the
Instructions: of that gap you fear so much.
If you look in that envelope included in the box
You’ll find the hinges of your life. You helped
Me sand and sand and mount the door
So oddly shaped and hear the bolt slide smooth
Like a finger through a ring.You folded the instructions
So the last line was all that showed and placed it
On my palm. What’s left, I said, the door is built.
You take your time, you said, and then walk through.
Creek, Cloud, Cricket
I drove ten hours toward the gravity of mountains
Away from the withdrawing bay and on the other side
of the Cape the sea’s constant worry-beads whirled
In the many-fingered tide. I was home and a long way
From it. I was twenty trash bags tightened one at a time
With old things, stuffed with the past in a dark garage.
I was inert explosive. I was upright. My father’s lips
And eyelids affixed shut, his hands folded, all horizon.
Modest shadow details of sunset on a strange beach.
I was home and alongside the creek I was alongside
When my father spelled out the last word he said to me:
“Yes.” The creekbed’s brushed knuckles just below
The surface of running thought, watered down mountain
wisdom. Summer drifted like a jellyfish. A creekbed
Mumbling yes endlessly. A cloud over a hospital wing.
Ritual shawl over a casket. Spell it out slowly.
Dread lifts lightly like an August wasp. It has its own
Direction and settles according to unseen rules
Of behavior written in the humid afternoon air.
Eventually, after rain, crickets give the all-clear:
It’s too dark to tell if I’m happy or sad. If grieving
Is the rocks or the water, the cloud or the rain,
The pinpoint crickets or the spinning earth.
Summer’s last thunderstorm
Nineteenth of September, nearly supper.
First the trees start whispering questions.
Leaves swerve to ground like practice seasons.
Is nothing too green for grief, the trees ask.
The answer scrapes the top of the sky.
Bulldozer uprooting forever for the new estates.
Is it over? Almost. It’s almost over.
Then rain, soft, like em-dashes
Between invisible words, unspoken charters.
Whatever they are building up there
Has been redacted already in the unseen
Document of the future, what’s left
Of our uncomposed lives. Word on the tip
Of the tongue in a mouth that closes.
Like clouds closing on a patch of blue.
The thunder has forgotten its voice
Is summer’s, and throttles like a biker
Down a darkening road.
Conversations (II – to a headache)
You promise you will never leave me.
All day I have been trying to locate grief
And all day you have been trying to convince me
Grief and pain are the same.
If grief leaves me I will know
I have lost something vital to happiness.
So keep your promise and leave
The one I love. I’ll keep you here on call
Like a substitute teacher outside
An empty room you’ll never see.
Morning, After the Ice Storm
The bluejay’s query from the previous twilight
hangs in the mostly empty air between branches.
On a brown maple leaf last night’s tear
has still not fallen. Though in a few hours
this moment will be gone like all the others
even grief sometimes has to wait its turn
This entry was posted in
New Writing, Poetry, The Drift and tagged after the ice storm, bluejay, emptiness, empty air, grief, haiku, ice storm, JS, maple leaf, not haiku, please stop talking about the air pressure in footballs fer cryin out loud, poetry, the Ice Storm, unregulated verse on . January 24, 2015
For the Sudden Mourners
that thing you hold is
no less real for his death that
thing that I hold is no less
real for the distance
In the blurring-by tree I saw the hawk turn its head.
This distance I’ve come to bring you home to find I no longer lived
In there. Well we walked arm in arm to the seats on the wall.
On the other side of the planet nobody called in.
Stood up by the upside down world. By the static sigh
Which could mean anything. By the eye which does not
Recognize. And this way back where the rocks weep ice
Is the only way which is forward
This brief response direct as a laugh because it was
Though you were unable to say my name or know
Who I was though you knew me through some tone or gesture
Is better than a memory of a laugh though the tunnel of grief is long
This goodbye where we are past the why to the final silent letter.
20 Poems & Other Translations from the English