So, love, we return from a trip to my native Springfield,
where I have learned, this late, with thanks
to the Abraham Lincoln Museum, that Abe
is the father of the expression “bass-ackwards.” I now admire him
even more. The Gettysburg Address is all right,
but “bass-ackwards” is one for the ages.
I’ve heard you tell friends my mother and father rest
in Oak Ridge Cemetery, where the Rail Splitter also rests. I live
because of those beloved two, who in their thirties, out of their love
and despair and blessed lust, against everything
that is humiliating or denying in life, cleaved to each other
and made me. Sangamon County birth certificates from that period
announce, in bold caps that jump off the page, the child
was BORN ALIVE. “Two score” later, inheritor
of my parents’ genes, I found my way to you.
Now, in late summer, I take my place beside you
on our deck and see ivy and golden trumpet vine
reflected before us in the glass of a table top.
Two days from now (I’m counting) the phone will ring
and my doctor will have important news – one way,
as we say, or the other. The reflection shakes, and my eyes
startle up to the source, including an amplitude of deep bittersweet blooms
some of which fall, almost as soon as they appear,
because of their preposterously impractical weight.
You cannot use the word “happy” in a contemporary poem,
particularly when you’re awaiting the result of a biopsy.
Oh, the hell I can’t.