Saturday, July 02, 2011


If I miss your paper skin and shaking hands
then they are not entirely gone; if the membrane
of the sky still shivers with your inhalation,
you are not dead. If the knife that cut your abdomen clean
under a tent in the South Pacific, and fished
the swollen worm of your appendix onto a dish,
is still in a cracking leather case in a closet, somewhere, anywhere –
Dad's surgical kit from the war, would like a museum want this?
then your blood must still be beating – up and over the hills –
under the river where Tony-Dog anxiously watched you swim.

But this is not afterlife we talk of here, this cloud
that sinks slow and blurs white in a medicinal glass, this
morning half-grapefruit and bowl of mush that we can't believe
there's no one here to eat. This is the startling chitter of squirrels
outraged by by your cat, and all the inexplicable continuations,
all the things that should have disappeared when you did:
the warmth of your wife's skin, the laughter of your daughter's eyes.


marly youmans said...

Membrane of the sky... shivering. I like that especially, and the tone, elegiac but restrained.

carolee said...

this is beautiful. it's a gift to be able to write so vividly of another person.

Mary Witzl said...

This makes me wonder who Ernie was, and how he got through that appendectomy, and what his life was like, and who had the job of going through his things after he died. It is so beautifully written -- and I am over-the-top fussy about poetry.

Dale said...

Thanks, all! -- My father in law, Mary, who died last year.