We received Lucy’s ashes yesterday. Unsure at first what to do with them, we’ve kept them since they are in a nameplated urn. She was part of our daily lives for eleven years and there’s unusual silence in the house.
She served as a muse at times, odd as that sounds. I thought I’d share some of the poems she inspired.
When I should be at the desk, the cold calls to the dog. We fill the space between the margins of this midtown fence. The best time is after the murmur of rush hour: the light when the sun is soon overcome and the peace that comes in the crack of each autumn step. We gnaw each new branch until it’s time to go back to the warm level places, water in bowls, the dull finish of a desk. We sit listening for something beyond these white walls—maybe attic rats or squirrels, maybe choirs or promises made during card games played in the dark.
(Published in Project for a New Mythology.)
The Essential If
She writes to me. Usually on windows with a wet nose. Something else to clean up until one day I had wiped away everything but the last whorls. I paused. I thought it was Hebrew. I knew it was Hebrew. She had written “if”—the essential if. The rest was rubbed away, but I saw the same mark a week later. Does Sue-Sue know Hebrew? Where would she have learned it? “If you hear-hear (if you obey-obey).” I had seen some in my books about tarot cards, but I’m pretty sure she can’t read. “Sue-Sue” is short for “Super Susannah the Brown Noodle Bandit.” This is what happens when you have a child name things like pets and grandparents. I refused to write “Super Susannah the Brown Noodle Bandit” on all those vet forms, so we compromised with “Sue-Sue.” I think I won there. But now she’s given me the essential impossible conditional. In Hebrew? Or is it Arabic? Egyptian Arabic? That’s different, I think. The essential impossible conditional. She chews a pig’s ear. She licks and I wait for the next metaphysical smear, the next barking of angels.
(Published in the 2014 Slash Pine Press Festival Anthology.)