Another Friend Who Misses Her Dad

Her quiet presence
looms long
and lean—a shadow

cast nearing civil
twilight. Forty years
since she’s stood

before or beside
me, and still
I remember her

long hair the color
of unground coffee
beans. Her bangs. The fresh

laundered scent
she would leave behind
as she rode off on

her banana seat
bicycle through those wooded trails
behind our row

of houses. Some whispers
echo longer
into silver brilliance

than any shrill yelp
of a peacock at large.

Rockford, IL

She moves not
just faster but
better when

she doesn’t know
the time. Forecasts
or predictions or
guesses or could be

wishes. A continuum
that ties her
to a fence

just like the wooden
plank one
those boys affixed
her to when

she was three. She couldn’t
tell time
then—was she free?

26th & Lyndale Again

Dreams that open
vaults might release
phantom lovers
with guitars. Live
music gets played
in a bar
meant for only
one thing—living
to drink. And
she doesn’t
anymore—drink
that is. Rumor
of a nickname
for her
she doesn’t
recognize. VIP
status gets a seat
on a fireplace
hearth. Who
can remember
how their bodies
came to collide
in five
easy moves.
Was it
like this? Probably
not, but a fire
burning on a cold
November night
could dissolve
the need to know.

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.

10 Months

Another 27th day hits
the way heat slaps

my face when I leave
an air-conditioned

shell. He would have walked
in it—no matter

what. I mention an MIT cap
and ring to a young architect

who knows
the Institute well. He says

as much as it changes
it remains the same. My father

faced change,
loved the same.

Eight Months

While dreaming,
our number
transforms into
a symbol
that gives
permission to go
on forever. One
sprawling figure

eight

through the seasons. But
it turns out
8 is not ∞
You have stopped
counting as I build momentum.
Grief can’t be quantified.
I must resort
to art as I carry you

with me on and off
the trace.

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.

Four Months

The dullness
of this count does not mirror

the flash
of metal that cuts longing

into irregular slices
of grief.

No steady hand
can regulate how

it gets measured, how
another day will fold

open with his absence
now ink

that has set into the fibers—
bleeds and all.

Ode to Technics

Twenty-one-year-old
speakers and receiver and
tuner and equalizer and memory

of how I would buy
and pay anything
to get closer

to that bastard
of young
with the voice. To replace

it all now
terrifies me. The sound
of anticlimax

is lonely and loud—
the young turned
fifty years ago.