It happened just like this for you, too, didn’t it?
You could not have been happier,
not a dancer, but did a jig in our courtyard
to the sweet streams of doo wop.
The innocent harmony of the Deltones,
and in 40 days you’d be staring at a ceiling
in an Emergency Room at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
This could be just like that …
Seeing double is worse than seeing single
It could be a precursor to a stroke
It could be anything, an interruption in service
of a perfectly working eye that gives up
that takes a powder when you least expect it.
That roars out of the station into a crash
against a wall, a motorcar, a vision that
decomposes, disintegrates, breaks down
into pixels, but this was not that.
This was seeing two, double vision, one eye
just as life was opening its third eye, letting
me see what I could do in this life without you
the fallow air around your grave that I never
visit, imagine, the whole thing a big mistake
as long as there is no marker, no one can find
you because you are not really there anymore.
I dressed you in the wrong jacket, not your
favorite shirt, but one a high school friend envied.
Why still after all this time, do I remember of all things,
I sent you away in an ill-fitting but new jacket
I knew I’d never give it away, I’d never wear it, I tossed
it into the coffin with your grandmother’s rosary beads,
your holy card to Vito Marcantonio, God only knows
what else I placed in the coffin, knowing even as
I neared that powdery skinned man in that box
that you had already left, that pain was gone.
Copyright © 2022 by Maria Lisella. Reprinted with the permission of the poet.