Cement Guitar

All morning I've remembered St. Ignacio's bruise,
jaundiced seagulls over Quonset, November 
and the gross white sky. Days so long
you walk home fifteen miles from the restaurant.
Same waitress every day of your life
and she never remembers your allergies.
Nothing on the map but scone crumbs
and a drop of tea. Just manifold food and a dead request
to bury the last of your seven receipts.

Mother of foster-wit, father of straw,
I can see how silence takes the place of those
who cut their thoughts in stone before they need them. 
Stone is the past, and the past is a form of flattery.
Last winter, groups of children sent letters
in sadness for the late Christmas suicide.
Addressed to those who managed the fishery,
who named the docks and decided the colors of unfinished boats,
the only way to read them was alive.
To think out loud about those children's names
was to forget what you meant by dying.

Copyright © 2002 by the University of Massachusetts Press. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.