Mr. Chairman Takes His Leave
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles.
en memoria William Rashall Sinkin, 1913–2014
Whitman, you once told me, is democracy on the page, messy
and imperfect as we are in real life, which gave you hope
that we would one day make real life true democracy, ripe blossom,
pollen dusting every moment and person, each scampering mote of light.
This is why as you lay dying, I read “I Hear America Singing”
and knew you heard every word and could feel my hand on yours
though you were already moving toward other miracles than this life.
A sunflower followed your motion and a yellow dog stood guard.
You, who lived the notion that the sun belongs to each and every one,
beggars, dreamers, kings, all. You who believed banks could have hearts,
for god’s sake! You have left it to us, messy and imperfect
as we are and will be, to keep to the work side by side
and as long as it takes, all the while singing of miracles
just as Whitman and you taught us to do. Meanwhile, you
were last seen wearing blue-plaid pajamas, a contrasting
blue-plaid bow tie, and surrounded by hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds leave Texas in early February, migrating north
to make new lives. The angle of the sun tells them precisely when
to take their leave. They arrive thousands of miles away
in mid-May, about the time of your birthday. A sunflower
follows your motion. The yellow dog stands guard.
Copyright © 2022 by Rosemary Catacalos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 13, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.