American Elegies, 1994-2014
Published in Cargoes, the literary journal at Hollins University
There is nowhere I have loved enough
not to leave. I spent 9 months barefoot
in Ohio, long enough to get
knocked up and have triplets
with the stout Midwestern moon,
I returned luminous and bruised.
I am sentimental, not
the knife blade but the handle, but
I pretend otherwise when I put things
like knocked up in poems, and
pine are the trees but also the verb
I do for trees, needled as novocaine,
also the raw perfume of Connecticut winter
where I turned eighteen and learned to smoke
cigarettes under the bandstand of stars.
I wept for childhood then, not knowing before
how to miss something so close. I think I might
never outgrow words like perfume and wept,
I am too far gone, delirious with softness,
and the thing we all learn about
living in English is that come and home
will never sound the same, our tongues
get used to missing. In French
the missing gets reversed,
the thing missed shakes hands with the verb.
To borrow its construction, the secondhand
Honda is missing to me,
parked at the soccer field, sitting knees
to knees, talking of what became now.