My grandfather’s dying in Ohio. You ask
how can we bring a child into this
melting world, this plummeting down
a broken elevator shaft of being.
It would be easy to point outside—
spring sunlight perched on the rain-fresh grass.
Or I could tell you about Petey, the pool’s
roving vacuum cleaner back when they,
my grandparents, lived in sunny Bradenton,
how he strolled the slope of the deep end
clicking his clean verses, and the smell
of Pop’s cigarettes, chlorine, hot coals
that burned my feet once after a barbecue.
I know every good thing casts
the shadow of its loss, I know we live
in almost constant exile—still,
water, too, might bear a name
swimming down a window, flung
from the night, and back to the night,
on the drive home, say, to Orlando.
This gust of wind could be Penelope
and the road Odysseus, twisting
with that subtle personality under
all things, even the ones we call
inanimate. And deeper within each thing
than the thing itself, this nameless fire
that flings us out, aching like a mother
for the day we should return.