The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Susan A. Katz

Last night I dreamed
Missouri; it could have been
Wisconsin, I've never
been there either, it was
Missouri because I liked
the way the word fell
off my tongue, slowly
like a distant siren fading;

   I dreamed adventure, stars, solar
eclipse, Atlantis
sinking but I drowned
beneath a swell of tears
and someone else’s screams
from sleep, my eyes
believed the solid feel
of walls, the boundary
of ceilings; last night
   it was Missouri, unnamed
streets and faces blank
as wind washed sand.
Days move precisely in
to nights and nights are races
I must win, I fortify
myself with dreams as tame
as names of places
I have never been.
Mother, he was meant for mountains,
meaning always to go, he stayed
more generous than wise, he kept
his promises and stored his dreaming
like secrets escaping now and then
in whispers from his eyes; so sure
of him, I dreamed him more than father,
while you believed him more than man.
Understanding nothing of his death,
we thought to measure time in years;
betrayed, his grin was boyish still,
his skin tan and weathered, his hands,
his hands that promised everything, strong.
     Beyond the wreckage
     of our separate lives
     we moved like cripples
     to each other's need
     and carried him a while
     in sorrow like a heavy
     sack, willing him away
     calling him back.
Beside his neatly tended grave
you bend to ivy wrinkling to stone,
parting the years to find him cold,
your fingers stroke the marble
of his name, sorrow beating at you
like storms that break
against the trunks of stout stone trees.
Oppressed by rusting gates that hung
at angles to the wind and concrete paths
that buckled to a frozen soil, knowing he
would not warm his hands beside the fire
of our grief or settle for a place
that did not breathe, I looked
for him where mountains move
through space to time.
Against my cheek, I feel his breath
warm like tears, and hear his voice
remembering my name; his fingers stretch
like shadows to my hand, across
the face of afternoon.
     He comes now often,
     wrapped in winter and lives
     like sleeping things beneath
     a covering of snow; Mother,
     I can not go with you again
     to worship at his bones;
     he is here, what need
     has he for stones.

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