WHOEVER IS NOT HOME GROWS SICK by David Keplinger and Bruce Bond
Whoever is not home grows sick.
Maybe I am writing towards the cure
of this insanity. Home me, I say to my friend.
Go back, said the crowd as Lazarus
emerged. Eat something, said the father
when the prodigal walked in. Silence,
said the word silence that has so little
silence in it. Bodies too. They make
a bit of noise to live. They leave a ghost
scent behind inside a jacket. This one,
says the widow, we will bury him in this.
And then nothing. As if, in silence, he returned.
I wore my father’s clothes around the house,
his smell, his glasses, the little arms reaching
down behind my ears, prescription correct.
I wore his old man body over my own body,
the hair on the backs of his hands. I wore
the air around his body, his last breath.
Any wonder I look to correspondences
with friends to hear the words he gave me,
and beyond that, a friend. I look to a postcard
of a sea-green Buick in the fifties, the smell
of rain in the damaged fabric, and on the dash,
the postcard once again. Welcome, stranger, it says.
I took to calling in the late hours
when I knew there’d be no answer,
found religion in the margins of my books.
Put on Coltrane’s Psalm and said the prayer
he wrote, a syllable for every note.
I remember my father, driving, in silence,
and me, beside him, in a wholly other
silence that passed through his, the way
a river passes through the sleeve of another,
and then my silence left. It rippled.
It turned to the waver of a saxophone
that drives all night into the red horizon.
- Published in Issue 24