Sandy Hook Light

for my father

We step inside the octagon
pillar. And we ascend.
Each turn of the spiral
stair breaks another one of your words
from its memory foothold—

loom ing
bar ri er
in can des cent
sand bar
un der tow.

Syllables smash
against the white-washed
concrete floor base below
and dissolve without leaving
any echo
residue. 1764, the year
it was built, splits
open—decades spill
onto the treads we’ve just climbed.
By the time we reach
the lanthorn, the Fresnel lens
freshly cleaned and functioning
into the 21st century, the sky
has cleared for us
to see in all directions—Atlantic Ocean,
Jersey Coast, Verrazano Narrows
Bridge, the Empire State
Building 20 miles north.
In the heat trapped inside and panorama opening wide, whole sentences fly
off our tongues, circumnavigating
enunciation. Did they jump,
or were they pushed? I can retrieve them
later, if you wish. For now,
it’s just you and me, Dad,
on the beam
that can be seen 19 miles
at sea on a clear night.
For now, we are the fixed white light.

Common Roots Day Dream

A sip of iced garden
mint chamomile tea
and she wants

to believe in more
than the dead
kit below her building

stoop, the fluid
filling her father’s lungs,
the beautiful five

o’clock shadow
framing your face. Mid-syllable,

she comes to. A trance-induced
dialogue snaps
shut. She blinks. Assesses

her surroundings
with fingertips cooled
by glass perspiration. Who

have I been talking to? She asks.
Who will answer? A murmur
behind a smile and she disappears

through the wall
becomes a door.

There Are No Wrong Pianos, Vic

Public pianos everywhere—
on the airport baggage
claim level, outside the convention
center entrance, inside the city
center second floor lobby. Where’s the one
to play in open air
in the park under an old elm
near the dandelion
fountain? Not there yet.