We were recovering from something, part 2


We were recovering from something, or trying to.

I had spoken to the medium healer

by telephone, while she sought contact

with my dead father. I waited

for something to shift

as the phone line





You hadn’t left yet, were tinkering

in the kitchen, stayed late this morning

to soothe me

because I had cut

my finger. It was just a symptom

of what was happening with the boundaries

that held everything in.


The knife slipped

because it always does,


You were unsteady too, exhausted

by the emergency of the everyday.

Relieved it wasn’t worse.

You wanted a reason to stay,

to care for me and sink

your face into the crease

of my neck.


We are bandaged in gauze;

bruised, together;

catching what spills.

The world is muted and far away

spinning its consequences

like clockwork.


The night before last, my nose bled again,

and I understood

our obvious casualties.

Substance drains

from broken vessels.

We cannot contain the hole.




I hung on to the phone

hoping for reason to dissolve.

I had prepared questions

that evaporated into the distance

without returning the echo

my ears strained for. Didn’t I know

what I wished to hear?

Hadn’t I dreamed

my own answers?

I wanted to open my chest

and absorb the cure

but my muscles

lay beached on the bed.

Or was it my mind

that couldn’t open?


The so called clearing did not clear

my head, swirling with vertigo.

I need a giant hand

to steady me, melt

the tension in my shoulders,

release the dam in my chest.

I yearn for the impossible

– barely possible? –

reunion of souls.

What I got was enough

to make me cry,

not enough

to convince.

He lives through the living,

but he will never come back.

Love is the lasting mark,

a glowing absence.

How could the medium empty

or fill this space?




I walk out, unlock myself

to the world. Am I lighter?

Can my knotted shoulder blades

spread like sails?


At the river, I stand and breathe,

still hoping.

A huge dog

turns to look at me.

I’m drawn to him, like any dog,

for ordinary reasons.

He keeps looking.

I approach cautiously, tread

the soggy, yellowed grass.

As he rolls onto his back

I muster the courage

to step

out of myself.

“Your dog is so sweet,”

I say to his human,

“can I say hi?”

She nods and I open

my hand on his solid Rottweiler skull.

I’m self-conscious

about the bloody Band-Aid

but soon my hands glide

across his glossy fur,

soaking up animal comfort.

I think I hear her say

he is an old soul.

The dog’s steady eyes send a flicker

to my muffled heart:

attention incarnate

among the dried-up river weeds.



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