Dear Bruce: my mother calls
to remind me that today,
November 21st, is the anniversary
of my father’s death and I recall
how five years ago I sat with
your words like stilled sparrows
on my lap, reading What Saves
Us, and all that rain, wet, humidity.
And I’ve been trying to track you
down because I need to know
what dark felt like in country.
Would it be different than my dark
here in the woods of North Florida
when a rain starts and it sounds
like bones crushing under the heat
of agent orange glow, and I hear
Virgilio on the bridge of the pond,
a bitter song on his lips. He calls
forth Lorca, Neruda, Li Po, great
poets of water, like you, and I hear
your voice somewhere in the night,
at first a white-hot whisper turned
hollow, then resonant with sounds
of an impending storm. If we must
all die, why not drown in our own
words, our tongues rolling back
into our throats to reach happy notes.
Previously published in 90 MILES: SELECTED and NEW,
University of PIttsburgh Press, 2005.