Ursa Minor

(originally posted July 30, 2013)

I could use a child’s wooden foot
stool to reach the last

days of July. Painted red
or a mustard almost

too rich to see
in summer. So much has been written

about April’s
cruelty, but it is the majestic

peak of August
I cannot bear. Such a short distance

to pitch and tuck
into a somersault

down an observatory crowned
hill toward fall. Before

the month ends,
my father will die

all over again, and life will continue
without him. No ladder will stretch

high enough into the sky
to reach all those stars we reckoned our spirits with.

Another August

Again the month
of grandeur
in grief appears
on the calendar.
A grid of days

leading to the day
the floor, the foundation
to my house
of stability gave
way. A crumbling

to open
all invisible doors

to go forward
without him.

Isometrics

Some days all I can feel is
my father’s handshake. Called a vise

grip by more than one old
beau. An addiction to finger exercises

he did while running
every morning. They kept my own

hands occupied
in the early weeks after quitting

those smokes
he hated viciously. And I still practice

them now that I have returned
to the road and to fight

back tears. No matter how many sets
I do, memories are all that’s left. And the way

they left his mind
too soon.

360

Come full circle
is not complete
without the last five

days. Can I keep
the pace of grief
steady? Sequential

dreaming is overrated. Change
the setting, change
the internal

dialogue and all the reed
instruments collected
in one long

narrow room. Corridor
songs round their notes
best without cracking them.

In Six Days

The counting may stop,
the spinning through
a thousand seasons
in a day may
become a memory. Or,
it won’t. Who
can predict
how my feet
will move
on the island
at dawn.

Monday Mornings in August

Hurt my eyes, my bones,
those muscles with memory
make themselves
known. To wake

to news
of a dimness
that has descended
from a light that has been extinguished

permanently—what is left
to fear? He cannot die
all over again,
can he? But the pain

is real. Spasms stun
me into beginning
those stages of awareness,
grief again, out of order.

July 27: 11 Months

Startled by the number 27

on my apartment door,
the nearest cross
street to an avenue

I used to live on. Where

did it factor
in your life
before it became

the day you died?

No reflexes can wake you
now, no tallies
too low, temperatures

too high. You used

to say time
was make believe,
manufactured to manage obsessions—

yours, mine, the rest

of the world’s. When light
rain placates a summer afternoon,
I wonder who

did the making and what

materials were used. You would
have known. Which mattered
most—the distance

you traveled or the moments

passed observed? You kept track
of both despite everything
because you knew

no other way to live.