A man leaves the world and the streets he lived on grow a little shorter. One more window dark in this city, the figs on his branches will soften for birds. If we stand quietly enough evenings there grows a whole company of us standing quietly together. overhead loud grackles are claiming their trees and the sky which sews and sews, tirelessly sewing, drops her purple hem. Each thing in its time, in its place, it would be nice to think the same about people. Some people do. They sleep completely, waking refreshed. Others live in two worlds, the lost and remembered. They sleep twice, once for the one who is gone, once for themselves. They dream thickly, dream double, they wake from a dream into another one, they walk the short streets calling out names, and then they answer.
When sleepless, it’s helpful to meditate on mottoes of the states.
South Carolina, “While I breathe I hope.” Perhaps this could be
the new flag on the empty flagpole.
Or “I Direct” from Maine—why?
Because Maine gets the first sunrise? How bossy, Maine!
Kansas, “To the Stars through Difficulties”—
clackety wagon wheels, long, long land
and the droning press of heat—cool stars, relief.
In Arkansas, “The People Rule”—lucky you.
Idaho, “Let It Be Perpetual”—now this is strange.
Idaho, what is your “it”?
Who chose these lines?
How many contenders?
What would my motto be tonight, in tangled sheets?
Texas—“Friendship”—now boasts the Open Carry law.
Wisconsin, where my mother’s parents are buried,
New Mexico, “It Grows As It Goes”—now this is scary.
Two dangling its. This does not represent that glorious place.
West Virginia, “Mountaineers Are Always Free”—really?
Washington, you’re wise.
What could be better than “By and By”?
Oklahoma must be tired—“Labor Conquers all Things.”
Oklahoma, get together with Nevada, who chose only
“Industry” as motto. I think of Nevada as a playground
or mostly empty. How wrong we are about one another.
For Alaska to pick “North to the Future”
seems odd. Where else are they going?