You, Emblazoned

for Kelly Caldwell (1988–2020)

Yet your voice was here

                         just there-here in our house, shining eyes
who dazzled twice, already timed,

a pulsing wind below the glass in spring,
and coaxed, intelligent, stoic, touching everything, you stirred
me to life, in spite of illness and damage

to the country, field laid waste, election blaze, illness
wasting a brain, a mind. Mars, and ocean, canceled.
Cream and streamers, canceled, 

“I am,” you said, 
                         though your skin flickered

to hackberry bark, or as bullet 
pierced pineal gland, blinking out
your day-night clock. Your syllables

endure frail days, which blow
through equinox, dissipate, time out—

            you imagined the planet
            with you already gone:

a sad expression, no real loss, the earth still a wild salon,

yet the name you chose
is etched into air, a violent wind
parts my chest, tenderviolet, electric

nights in our sheets, no longer 
countable, unrecounted. You, here, again,
my is-are-were, have-been-is, in my 

arms, bed is-was our house-eyes, in my 
only thought only root only gone,
my big only gone still here voice
blazing, I mourn you-her, 

her-you, who were born-dreamed into the world’s thicket
yet reinvented through an inner radiance, 
the radiance of a name, 
the name that is yours,
the radiance that is-was yours 
                                    that is-was you—

Copyright © 2023 by Cass Donish. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 10, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.