RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – December 12

December 14, 2017

Poem of the Week 12/12/17

Arthur Russell

The Heavier Stone

My dad died eight years ago.
Our relationship has improved a lot since then.
He arrives unannounced in my poems,
driving his maroon Lincoln Town Car,
bearing odd gifts – like a ten-pack of paper towels —
plays with the baby, leaves before dinner.

I hope my mother’s death earlier this year
will put us on a similar trajectory.
I’m not asking to be reconciled.
That would require a deeper well or a heavier stone,

but possibly, now she’s dead, she’ll stop interrupting
when I explain how an answering machine works,
and also be nicer to my wife.

Her refugee belongings huddle
in the dust-bunny corners of my home,
as if they, not I, had been orphaned,
and reminisce about her orderly closets,
her straightened twist ties and the pens
that weren’t tossed aside simply because they didn’t work.

I’ve never done well with actual people.
After cartoons and pen pals,
it was girlfriends in distant cities,
then poetry, the ultimate girlfriend in a distant city.

I hear my daughter and her friends
laughing in the living room.
That is the correct distance between me and joy.

Some people jump up and wave,
or run along the station platform;
others dream of the wind.

She told me that I couldn’t go to little league that day.
I slipped out, anyway, still crying in my uniform, with stirrup socks,
my oiled baseball glove on my hand,
and tried to walk to the game.

By the time I reached Marine Parkway,
the angry tears and snot had dried,
and I was enjoying my brigand walk
past the lawns, the stores and intersections
of our usual car route,
when she stopped across the street
and rolled down the window of her Bonneville,

and her face appeared in that trapezoid of missing glass.

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