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All That I Love

ISSUE:  Winter 1994
All that I love survives.
I have learned to forget the dead.
My son’s muscles, my daughter’s nervous
studies, smoking, the way she can, in
an excited mood, talk non-stop, these are
essential things. My brother’s interest
in his tools, his craftsmanship, these
I forget in the dust of his bones. I
put away for the last time the love I
bore him like a cross, to nail myself on
some high lonely hill. Those that breathe
I love. I am like a moth around a
light when into my house my one son
comes, full of life, to sweep me off
my feet, and laughing leave. I
flutter bravely in the place his
breath shone. All that I love sleeps
in warm beds, wakes in the rain,
gets wet out walking. I am no
magician. I cannot take from out
of the road the kink my brother
passed on, driving full of speed,
to die there. The road is not
improved. Fresh and alive instead
the bumped fender my daughter made
in her car, when, distracted, she
turned around to watch a hairdo
cross the street. We will make her
a better driver. We will not
perform emergency surgery on a
body already ruined or howl for
thirty years over the void where
two lives used to touch but do not
now. She puts up her hair in the
bathroom, I watching. She puts
on her face to go out, the way
my wife does in the morning.
All that I love pays taxes
under the moon. The wind that
flies, dislodging leaves that blow
to cover my lawn, ruffles their
hair. They are not made of
stone. They are not timeless
yet, wrapped in the arms of
grief. They make mistakes.
They stay out late, and
when they speak, these are not
angels yet or sacred texts to be
pored over by monks of the soul
but words and other riffraff of
extravagance. I laugh, sometimes,
hearing it so. The way we
answer each other, sharing the
same mind. Mortal things, in love
with a good time. Bones in
the joints that creak, thirst in
the mouth like a long day, eyes
that fill up with images like bays
with boats. Somehow we keep
afloat. Storms are heavy clouds that
crowd the far horizon drawing
near, or sudden gusts of energy
that stomp their feet in our
kitchen, meaning we do not
accept the day quite as it is,
but will go sleep a bit and in
our dreams remake the world,
The days’ light, tossed by trees,
blows across the floor, something
to sweep up, something to read by.
The dead, meanwhile, are safe in
paradise. Someday I’ll worship
there, and learn the proper language
of regret. Dark temples and holy
songs, a dressed up day, followed
by a thousand nights. Meanwhile,
the phone rings and rings, some
urgency endows us with opinions,
dinner in our stomach settles,
restless we come and go.
All that I love is now.
The tired dull clock comes round
again with numbers we reject.
Shoes pinch, coffee perks,
the time unpacks itself like
water over rocks, and dissipates.
And I had a tooth that hated me
and would not sleep. And a dog
that was run over in the street.
A roof that leaked. A ladder
on the house up which I went,
confused, and tried to do there
what I could. I went, in love
with the work, and tripped, and
nearly fell, but caught myself,
and looked around me for the view.
All that I loved was there,
under the sun.


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