these days I speak of myself in the past tense
writing about yesterday knowing tomorrow
is no more than mist crawling toward violet mountains
I think of days when this weather meant you
were not so far away the light changing
so fast I believe I can see you turning a corner
the rain comes in smelling of pine and moss
a kind of brazen intrusion on the careful seeds of spring
I pay more attention to details these days
saving the most trivial until I sort them for trash
or recycle a luxury I’ve come to know only recently
you have never been too far from my thoughts
despite the newborn birds and their erratic songs
the way they tilt their heads as if drowsing for the sun
the way they repeat their singular songs
over and over as if wishing for a different outcome
Copyright © 2015 by Colleen J. McElroy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 29, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
Picture him amid the rust—hand tools, jars of screws,
bolts, half-useful wrenches—assembling miniature farm
wagons, windmills, trains, as if one day he would return.
And return he does—in the various and sundry nails,
boxes of brads, wood scraps, lengths of wire thick
with dust—as the waste not want not farmer.
Which fills you with regret: not spending more time,
not listening, not facing what you could not save.
Now, you empty the pegboard of worn saw blades,
the calendar with pig photos and corny quotes, toss
handles, staples, hinges, caulk, tape, string, metal, and
weep, knowing this is as close as you will ever be to him,
his world reduced to tinkering alone down in this city cave,
touching what his rough hands touched, his curiosities,
your father under a bare bulb sawing pieces of his last
unfinished project, a sea-faring ship, its instructions and
pattern carefully numbered and folded—the glued, carved,
and sanded basswood—as if he sensed this full-blown
final creation might help him sail across that ancient sea.
From Rock * Tree * Bird (The Backwaters Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Twyla Hansen. Used with the permission of the author.