Tuesday, January 18, 2011

239. To the Other Side

Left Schenectady in the ice and snow and darkness

Trees as giant naked ghosts in the rain
coming down in the color of snow

or rain itself was the ghosts
were the ghosts
Hazy indeterminate
ill fitting
Spilling out of the night

There is a mess to moving

through any space
across any period of time

Leaving for California in the morning
and a funeral

on your side of the country
on the edge of my birth

continental edge

I say, “I’m from
the other Side
of the continent”

as if Side were the term
we would generally use

The dead Sleep gently
because they don’t sleep

and their dreams
are bolts of black cloth unfolding
before their eyes and after
their eyes stop seeing

All that blackness for so little purpose

Going to California
so people assume

] within the bounds of snowy
upstate New York [

that I will be at least warmed
by the Californian sun

but I’m from northern California
that pocket of Mediterranea
we call the Bay Area

peninsular by birth
born between the Bay
and the Violent Pacific

as if bound for water

and baptism by every form
of Water

one being the snow coming down today
that turned to tiny Fists of ice
that turned again to raining Against us

and the weather I’m heading for
will sink to 39 degrees on Thursday
(and that’s not Celsius)

even summers can be cold
in San Francisco

it is a barely tamed tip
that northern reach of my peninsula

and I go there to see
my dead aunt who once lived
Hollowed out by emphysema
she was always breathing oxygen

air just too mild a gas for her

yet she remained herself

hardly bowed
at least her personality
by the desperate need to breathe

she was funny
kind, goofy
in the way I’d want my only

aunt by blood

to be
and she loved my own family
the one I made
Had made

It may all be a trick
of expectation

since she is my godmother
given thus responsibilities
serious and heady I’m told

to guide me

as if guiding
were a particularly practical path
for anyone to follow
on my account

And when my mother
in a second split as her ribs
were split
as one force of speeding steel
hit her lugubrious station wagon
at the intersection cradling
a towering white church
in one corner

then my aunt
my mother by god
had a greater
responsibility for me

] or would have if I
had not be 39 at the time

but time or age
does not or do
not always matter [

or maybe she felt it
tho she
knew there was nothing
to feel

no need to care
for a father of two

This is how
we come to the place
to the way
of missing someone
I see only
Every few years

or did See
or Had
because she is unSeeable now

she is
for certain
still corporeal
but not embodied

she has been released
to bolts of black cloth

as blind to blackness
as I am blind to her

Yet I might see her again

] not because of the regenerative
myths of afterlifes and realms
of grand surreal rewards [

because my family
watches the bodies of our dead
after they die

] I just don’t know
if her sons want that
or not [

but if I see her
I’ll know she’s not There

Still I respect
the body, a bag
of Bones and blood

and I’ll give my own possible Blessing to that body

and kiss her goodbye

] just as I have, since three
years of age, Kissed away
all four grandparents
and My mother [

for my aunt
was not her body but
her Body was a part of her

] and we are not queasy
at the sight of our own
sanitized dead maybe

because we come from
a genealogy of morticians

(I appreciate the sense
of Death in that word)

and know the body’s
sacred [

When I saw my mother
a color off but still
her I kissed her goodbye

] last one I have
and that almost a dozen
Years ago [

And I played with
her Fingers
supple because time
has passed beyond
rigor mortis

(death Returns)

she was Cold
but moving
in my hands playing
the keys of
my own fingers
against me

and so I’m
Leaving for
California tomorrow

To see
the Dead

and you get this
Letter (more than
One) because you are

on that Side
of the Continent
and deserving

of unexpected

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