From my window I see a group of deer starting across the frozen lake.
I call out softly to them to be careful, but my words only glaze the glass
until I cannot see them at all. This morning Jim Harrison died.
The news came like the recoil of a shotgun blast,
the room grew small, like the sound of feathers landing on water.
The old dog will retrieve no more poems for us.
I never knew Jim in person, but I would have hidden in the bulrushes
with him. Let him grope my breasts and grab my ass, just to know
poetry’s desperate touch, that I might teach it to my poems.
Pour the Bordeaux, another great one has slipped the mooring,
his chair still warm with his lusty heat, his pen still in his hand.
It’s like the time I found the cave filled with petroglyphs,
stories in red ochre that seemed too alive to be dry, as if the artist
was just leaving, moving down the throat in front of me. “Wait,”
I called low, my voice foreign to the cavern and gone
with the mystic and meaning, gone with the maker and mine
to decipher. What is to be made of this kind of loss?
When I was very young I found my mom weeping at the kitchen table
first it was for King, then Kennedy, at last she sobbed for Elvis.
Even my child-self understood we lived in the world they changed.
Why do we miss those who never whispered our name?
A child I couldn’t know the gaps, the emptiness of the cave,
the hole in the rows of books on my shelf, a reserved space.
And I continue to lament the loss of someone I never possessed.
The deer have made it to the middle of the lake. Ten brown
figures moving against the white open landscape. Breaking
clouds introduce the bright sun; the ice grows thinner.
Let it hold, I pray, please, let it hold.
Long enough for all of us to reach the other side.