evening poem, November 3, 2015

The old man sits on the edge of his bed in his single room

His hair is white as the four walls, white as the gown he wears.

He looks into his hands, the white palms

He looks deeply, circling one thumb over the other palm, right, then left

Where is it?  He wonders and he moves his hands into the bright fluorescence

He searches and imagines the tiny dot in the middle of his left palm

But it is not there, finally, and he looks again at his right hand

Rubbing the palm again, as if to clear dew from a window

And there it is, just below his middle finger

Just above the life-line.

It was in nineteen forty-seven on the third floor of Lincoln Elementary School

A fine fall day.  It was early afternoon.

It was never late at Lincoln Elementary School and this day

There had been early rain and the smell of the grass and the new-fallen leaves

Made its way through the third-floor windows like music

He had a new fountain pen and in a slip of the hand he stuck his other palm with the blue-wet nib

And left there a tattoo, below the skin

That healed over quickly and sealed the mark and never faded.

Everything else did.

His job, his house, his wife of fifty years, his children, all of them hundreds of miles away.

His eyes.

Mary Hart was there when he pierced his hand

Hers was the desk behind his

Her long hair, black as night; her white blouse and tartan skirt

She is thirty years now in the grave

They knew so little then and the world was so small.

He would like to see her black hair now, its glossy sheen

Her fresh face and easy smile that told him all was well then

He would like to smell the earth and moss wet with rain

As it filtered through the windows then

Then he would know heaven.

Copyright 2015

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3 Responses to evening poem, November 3, 2015

  1. almond and oat. says:

    Love this!!!

  2. Yeah, this is really good.

  3. In the room, see the hand, feel the memory… inspiring.

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