last dream before waking
My grandfather never died;
he simply lost all animation.
We carry him from house to car
to house, & his pale thin figure
is able to hold any pose indefinitely.
He doesn’t eat, so he never goes
to the bathroom — a relief for everyone.
Some of us do put words in his mouth:
I know what Pop-pop would say, we say,
& maybe we do, but his expression never changes.
He’s sitting right there when
the four siblings meet
to divide the estate. He was always good
at not hearing things, though,
& this morning is no exception.
The room turns to coal around him.
We are shining our headlamps
at the shale ceiling & its yellow
shapes of ferns. We are listening for canaries.
After a lifetime in the oil industry,
it must seem strange to return
to the hard coal country of his childhood,
but at least Pop-pop doesn’t need a light.
This is an outcome he’d recognize —
one he set aside after his famous talk with God.
I hear his nose drip behind me
like the stalactite it was always trying to become.
Someone says, Black as the ace of spades!
with a nervous laugh,
& it sounds just like him.
[Poetry Thursday – dead link]
I also recorded an audio version of my poem “Into the Garden” from the other day, and posted it along with the text here.
Find links to other people’s Poetry Thursday posts here.