May 20, 2013

After 28 years, this day still knocks
the wind out of me.

More than a quarter
century. Just shy

of three decades. I look for you
in each fresh start.

Would you still accept
me after all the near misses and messes

I’ve gotten into? The slowly revolving
mop ups? Would you still
believe in being

a work in progress? Would you
give me another chance? I can hear

your voice as clearly as when
you were alive: Yes.

Color Mnemonics

Fear is the only four letter word
I need to say
to be free. Another season begins

to break
without him. A patch of sidewalk
ice melts

into a small lake, freezes again
overnight. Spring
can’t get any traction. Somewhere

an empty suitcase, an empty raincoat,
an empty tomb. Don’t forget (a parent
or sister might say)
to snap

a mental picture
of those ocean waves breaking
open another calm
after a late winter storm.

Three Months

The labor of breathing
without gasping
through these hollowed-out
days. The fear

of never being able
to recite the Serenity Prayer
again because of the way
the throat closes shut

before “grant me”
can escape. Just one more

bear hug, one more laugh
over lost cookies, one more
email exchange, just one
more hand squeezing, one

more simultaneous gazing
at the same full moon
while standing thousands of miles
apart, one more walk

side by side
would not be enough.
I surrender to this
grief and put my trust

in the wind still blowing
from those resilient wings.
Death’s got nothing
on them.

Wind Sock

No matter how
he bends, he doesn’t forget
to smile. I wonder
what you would think
of him—but you won’t tell

because you’re dead.
You wouldn’t dance—just nodded
your head. That lilt. The music
was what mattered most to you,
then nothing

but the bottle
beside your bed.

Then there was only one way
out of the ICU. No more
going in either direction
on a boulevard with car dealership
wind socks to draw you in.