Three years had passed. I was sitting
in a patch of early-October sunlight.
A last hummingbird sipped and sipped
at the feeder before he was gone
for good. The sun seemed to bulge
between two ash trees, the morning
a clear-coat of light. I had just finished
a slice of raisin bread when suddenly
I said out loud: He’s dead,
Daniel is dead, he’s not coming back.
Not ever. It was not the first time
I had said those exact words.
But it was the first time I believed them.
When I went inside, everything was
just as I had left it: my red mug emptied
of tea, the can of tea leaves, the teapot.
The loaf of raisin bread. The cutting board
and knife. But it didn’t seem possible.
The Last Day, Again
Again this day arises
the way a poem arises out of an emptiness
it wants to fill. It arrives to remind me
once more of what is no longer,
but isn’t lost, not if I keep writing about it.
Not that I have a choice.
My son and I are sitting on his back porch,
early October, the gold locust leaves above his barn
giving the morning light something to shine in.
An unfelt breeze makes itself known
when the leaflets shake and shimmer.
The sun’s mercurial gold lights my son’s cheek,
brings out the green of his eyes.
We are talking about a house project,
though inside each of us is a language
of feelings that does not have words.
Call it the fear of what could happen, then did.
Our words are merely the sounds
of our minds moving, of the two of us
going away from each other, then coming back,
as we try to make our fears less exposed.
We talk about the crippling pain he lives in,
the drugs he takes for it and their dangers.
Talking is our way to keep things together:
a kind of trust, or faith, not in words
but in the amplitude of love they can create.
This is the last time I will see him alive,
but the memory is here inside me, clearly visible,
the shifting pattern of that filigree of leaves,
the shadows and gold light, the two deer
in the meadow behind the stone wall,
the barn’s patchwork roof, the blue tarp
like a sky that he stretched over it,
and the clouds above, so gentle, pacified,
moving to their destination as if they know
the place they are going. The spirit of the day,
imbued with fear and beauty, is not so much
a memory as a feeling of a few lived hours in time
always waiting to take shape again.
Always the two of us sitting on his porch,
the gold leaf-light shimmering above us.