Prose and Poetry from Web del Sol



Why do we claim your celebrity,
coming only as it did with your winter
death? In February, after the memorial service—
though not the burial, which won't come until
spring when the ground's warm as milk or epidermis—
we clot outside the church, form groves
against the wind, and pass your name around
like a plate. Mrs. Des Rochers—the obligatory
blue-haired lady with the spot on her head in the shape of Elvis
Costello or Jesus—wants us to believe she's been crying
but we all know better, the shared wisdom of the town
and of the winter moving through us like a charge,
like we had all joined hands to make a chain
and the one on each end would reach
to the electric mouth of the hand dryer
shiny in the men's bathroom on the first floor
of the old Houghton High School building
that’s now a cluttered ruin. You'd huck your voice
around in class like you would a hoop
and get us all to move with you
to the bathroom, no spit-dirty chickens now
to put our mettle to your test. How
if we all held hands, that lusty electric mix
would assure and course right through us
like you coursed through the ice
and down through the lake
until you reflected off the bottom
in your one great flash bulb
terror of a moment
and maybe we would see your face
scouring the bottom of the ice
like curlers with their brushes do
or cartoonish talk show guests, elbowing
the inside curve of the television screen
and when one of us broke the electric link,
we'd all feel the jolt that was I thought, like birth
or death, a shock and something new.

   first published in Many Mountains Moving