We ride, O yes this is what we do. We ride
in my car on the peripheral rock of interstate
and with your countenance you intimate
that you think I (the beloved) should die.
Thrusting into the golden Nogal Canyon, we ride
in decaying silence and catch blurs of arroyos. I say
nothing, watch a sunset corrode the same way
that your smiles do. Sweet Jesus, we ride.
But I would make a great corpse. Bloated
sunrays jab, their sting pervasive.
You rub the dusty dashboard
and smear the mess on my hardening head.
I am a novice traveler: I still somehow live
and dabble in a desert of flash-forward.
It is true that I have not been able to utter more than a madman’s sound since my eyes beheld the sight. I’ve lost speech. And so they have asked me to write. Since you are a poet, write, they told me. Little do they know what they might get. Little, even, do I.
-William Goyen, “In the Icebound Hothouse”
Grief works in mysterious ways—you didn’t really die.
St. Patrick’s Day. I came home to pee
and there you were, blue and wrinkled. Well,
grandma’s dead. I turn you over, trying somehow
to imagine your spasms and twitching head
as signs of life. Your tendons relax, and then stiffen.
(It is April Fool’s Day, and the Japanese
Maples are gleaming green below pigeons
resting on power lines and Mulberry trees)
The Fourth of July arrives, grandma. Your son
chases your granddaughter on Seacliff beach, Santa Cruz.
The sky is blue of course, as is the ocean. Blue
blue blue blue all fucking blue and then there’s you
as my sister overturns a clump of kelp.
Adam Crittenden is working on an MFA at New Mexico State University and editing for Puerto Del Sol. He teaches freshman composition and has recently taught a poetry course for the local Community Education program.