Poem 89

because i am the self proclaimed unofficial poet laureate of Michael Foote’s death, because we are all so far apart and won’t be coming back this fall… because the ache never goes away, we just learn how to live around it. I love you, I always will… love, Mama Bear!!
            When theglow from the streetlights is low enough
            —ephemeral even—Iunlace my shoes ad dig toe-ward in the grass.
            I waitthere
            until I cansense the pulse beat roots
            imagine myoak atop a sprawling mound
            long beforethe insects or half abandoned pencil nubs of fall.
I am small,
            but itbegins regardless
            as ifcarried by breezes, a pilgrimage of pieces
            pennies withgreen-grey edges
            pea coat buttons
            couch cushion mints
tumbleweeds of crumpled worksheets,long lost before due dates
single socks in technicolor
tiptoeing across dog eared pages ofpicture books
a purple gel pen
a half filled journal
maps to treasure buried in thebackyard
shards of mirror
snippets of photos
a single useless key
It is everything I’ve ever lost…
Loved, remembered—hours spent searching, countless tears
            a locket
            a small Minniemouse figure.
            a letter
            a birthdaycard signed in cursive
            a ring
            a barrette
When you’re small every loss feels raw, essential, laborious
they collect at first by my heels,but quickly it is my knees brushed by handkerchiefs and headbands
            I could wade through—but I don’t daremove…
            waitinstead for the inventory to be complete:
            a threewheeled suitcase
            a promdress with a misaligned zipper
past due college acceptance letters
a roped coil of my long dark hair
a map from trips unplanned
the front door to our unpurchasedhouse
            the crumpled calendar leafletsto mornings slept away
I make no haste surveying the damage
            —theartifacts of a privileged life—
            the scrapsof me the universe saw fit to take away.
            Thispile-mole-hill-mountain-monument is everything I’ve ever lost…
and everyone.
            Thereperched high in a rusted beach chair, the silhouette of a straw hat andoveralls.
            I couldwade through—but I don’t move.
            I am solidas this tree, barked to its flanks
            buried ineverything I think I’ve lost.
I watch for vital-signs. wait for you to move
readjust, sigh, smile
or for the morning to reach across the lawn
and make it all tangible,
but it never does.
I wish I had known;
consumed by anguish over lost legos
—I wish I had been told by someone older, wiser, more worndown—
that some losses are deeper than others:
some carve at your soul.
What I would give to brush aside the strings of florescentglass beads and…
but I am small—barked to this tree.
What I would give to dig my nails into twenty-two years
and climb to where you are,
shake you conscious
beg you to stay
—but I am small, brittle as my grieving tree…
            I’ll nevermake it, I’ve put too much between us, I’ve trust you out of reach
If only—
            If only wewere face to face:
            you in youroveralls, me sprawled across the green
            I couldknow then
            with certainty 
            that the things the universe takes away make it out of this place
            transcendtheir own trifleness
Sometimes when I ache for you I remember all the things I’llnever lose
            a wheezinglaugh
            a whiskeylaugh
            a handprinton my shoulder
            a bear-hug
and I sit Indian style with my back to the world waiting forthe buttons to scatter
the love letters to slip silently into the deep
for the man atop my mourning pyre to raise himself
onto his legs and cascade calmly back to the grass
            I wouldstand and extend my fingers
            I would abidewith sturdy roots
            for you toput your forehead against mine and breathe again
            I would holdyour whiskered cheeks in my palms and say what I always meant to say…
Go now.
   You are not lost.

2 thoughts on “Poem 89

  1. Emilee,
    This is truly the most beautiful poem I think you've ever shared. Every line is a true, perfect representation of your essence and his. It's conversational but rhythmic – and so honest. The poem's story arc and pace align perfectly to the emotional purge you create. It's personal and specific to one experience – one moment even – but the loss you describe is universal.

    Poignant. Delicate. Sincere. Enduring.

    This is a poem. This is art. Bravo.

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