I wait inside while strangers cart boxes through depleted rooms;
my mother's house empty now in fact instead of theory.
Thumbed to the inside of a pantry door, a calender dated 1961
holds watch. Here is the transience of x'ed out days;
I've come to name the ghosts in this sudden unhinging of air.
It's '61 again, and Eddie loses his footing on a low stool
while crepe myrtles bob purple heads outside the window,
leaving a silence, an absence of light beneath a door.
Mother listens to Debussy, La Danse De Puck, and does not cry;
I watch the weight draw lazy circles in the dusk of day.
It will be spring in a while; I never wanted to go to Paris.
This is the summer Joan found the husk and bark
of Dylan, threatened to move to Greenwich Village, get a job
pouring coffee at Gerde's Folk City. She named a took-up sooner
Woody, got caught behind Conner's Feed 'n Seed with a boy
who looked a lot like Bob. She disappeared that summer,
"away with an aunt", they said; returned before fall set in,
the arc of EST still visible in the fine hair at her temples.
Afterwards, she was always barefoot, humming behind a frozen smile.
Autumn has come, wind scares up old leaves that tick down in spirals.
"Take a picture of this" says my father; now he hides in the slump
of a stranger photographed beside a pearl-gray sedan, his face
too far away to see the set of his mouth; tight-lipped until
he drank it loose. I smell rain in the swelling dearth of sky.
I am not like him, all flesh and hollow bone. He speaks in loud tones
of the nigger allowed on his crosstown bus, reason enough, he says,
for the Buick. The camera doesn't record the stink of his breath.
It is winter. I have carried the cold in from the outside.
The movers are done, their trucks packed and idling at the curb;
exhaust curls from their pipes and dissolves as I watch them pull away.
I think of whatever it is that looks back in longing, how the hibiscus
still blooms in February and my God, it's been years since I've seen snow.