Issue #44 - Spring 2020

Page 58

Tipton Poetry Journal – Spring 2020

Questions William Snyder, Jr. Students sit in neat, long rows. Professors clump like Rushmores in the easiest chairs. Our poet reads. Poems about death. Her husband’s. His dying after years together and her long days after—the garden, the rain, the desire. A widow now, she lives in a widow’s house. I think of my father—the thick, square jaw, the rulered lips of his dissatisfaction. My mother— her gray skin, the oxygen sucked like waning nectar from a plastic tube. I have their lives in fragments, in bits—Nashville in ‘45, the collie dog in Hartford, all of us by Lake Lucerne— little squares in a shoebox, dates in nib-penned black on white, purfled borders. Memories are random now, and fading, like those photos, but I have questions still—they do not fade. Why mother cried those nights I lay awake—cancer, she’d say, it must be cancer, and father saying, no, no, it isn’t, it can’t be, but if you don’t stop smoking. Or how we left Plattsburg—brothers and I and father— how we said goodbye to mother. Did she hold us? And when he’d say, years after, if I’d only known what I know now—movies, TV—what they show, you can learn so much, and I’d ask if it would’ve made a difference.