The Land of the Dead Is Open for Business

Take 22 from Pittsburgh International west through Weirton, cross the Ohio, ride 7 all the way down. Over your left shoulder — barges, black with it. Follansbee Coke Plant ignites the night that never leaves that Other Shore.

 

 Why now?
These byways inevitably
find one un-branching road below
and peopled hills happier
than I could guess they are,
happier still for a visit.

Slow cooker has one hour more,
bed turned down in the old room.
Tomorrow, kids arrive, pouring forth,
vibrant as the wind and sun,
who may or may not see themselves clear.
Nothing is eternal in the land of the dead.

Mother urges me stay awhile,
open the twenty-year cedar box
taffeta torn off a homecoming dress,
the weakness of sincerity and intention
pillowed in my younger hand,
a note in the margin of 1,001 Love Poems

I wish I did not own, her sequins,
a sewing room, her head and shoulders
draped over the threshold, right ear cupping
the cold past; she says she’s ready, watching
for movement down the linoleum hall,
the part of her with me a stranger.

Why now? And after dinner, stars
(vaulting heaven collected in the ridge-black
trees and portals’ whirring fans) break
my Beauty-would-be-less-for-being-here.
Sad, dead, lake hanging in the quicksilver air
quivers momently,

 

 

so much so I cry on the porch,
my head quaking; if my head were a pen
I am writing in the dark an explanation
why it doesn’t black itself out,
or become a pylon stitching
Richmond-Cincinnati.

Why do I see it clearer the further I drift,
why come desiring, deny it entry,
the way a man driving miles of border
between a Palace and his name
along a silver road admits
finally who Beloved is, is not,

might turn back, but might not,
pulls onto the median, radio off,
awaits his shock’s hot working
from the wheel, his stiffened wrists,
his slow rising like a sound
in his throat he can not clear?

 

 

 

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