A Short Tablature of Loss

A funeral home before the funeral.
                       The ghosts it despises.

           Evaporated holy water.
Messiah of satin roses.

                                  The prayer before it becomes a prayer:
in the throat, the machine for lamenting.


                       Musk of kindling after fire.
           Char, as in: these hands are reaching,
but all they can grasp is air.

                                  The road the hearse used to carry the body
to the wormhole.

                       A sling carrying a body with broken clocks.


My mother in her mainframe, captive
                      to pumps, pipes, irrigation tubes.

The spotlessness of her gown,
                                  immaculate hem of nurses’ smocks.

                      Wasping of night hours invading morning,
                                  spreading tick-tock like spilled salt.

           The way they pulled the needles off, as if freeing
a smoker’s lung from its escutcheon.


                                  My grandmother in her wheelchair
           at Good Samaritan Nursing Home, rubbing
                                  a rosary into dust, and flecks of gold leaf


on her lap, and the way she would stare

                      at a space in the wall as if God was speaking
                                  in that language.

Hurricane calm. Before the posts prayed.

           Coven of whistling thorns.

After the relocation of water: blessing and blessed.


           Coming home to that shack on Calle Tulipan.

                                  How the lawn had yellowed as phlegm.


                      How the blocks under the house had worried themselves loose.

           My father, who'd lost his leg in Korea, sprinting
along the fields to save our grapefruit from frost

                      and in his speed two spinnerets playing pat-a-cake.


The mark of the poor: tentativeness.


           A body crimpled into cassocks. The sunflower field
where it was abandoned, and the moon in its resignation.

                                  The dream of all hunters: to justify an absence
                      that requires sacrifice of innocent things.

Pulling petals from a dayflower to form a fence.

                                  Smoothing a rock to make a false eye.

           As if creating the missing of things
                                  could cure the loss of some others.


Copyright © 2018 by Rodney Gomez. This poem originally appeared in Citizens of the Mausoleum (Sundress Publications, 2018). Used with permission of the author.