The Cellar Door Was Open; I Could Never Stay Away

Another anniversary of a death,
followed by a milestone of living

in the same place
for three decades.

Why did you think 48 years
would be enough? Everything

was too much. I urged you
to get on a plane.

I took you to the City
on a train. The Island on a ferry.

Ten more years before
I would put down the bottle.

The one we could never pry
from your hand. Why

does every poem I write
about you have to end this way?

Why can’t I invent
a happy ending just once?

We did read poems aloud
on the west bank of the Saint Croix

that one spring day—my first
Minnesota spring.

It hit so suddenly
it knocked the wind out of me.

And nothing compares to arriving
to stay in your town

after civil twilight
on the second day in October.

So many cool breezes
across so many lakes.

The U-Haul truck you drove so well.

Note: The title comes from the song “It’s a Shame About Ray,” written by Evan Dando and Tom Morgan.

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