|Nebraska Center for Writers|
THE ESTATE AUCTION
You asked me to go with you|
to an estate auction thirty miles south.
You told me
about driving with your twin,
how you would lay your head
in his lap as he drove.
After I moved in, he would call
and leave messages like,
“Watch ‘Night Court,’ it’s funny.”
We stopped at a Dairy Queen
on the way, probably the same one
I stopped at ten years later
with a student, on our way to a reading,
thinking how far away I’d gotten
from myself. Then we drove
through a town called Friend,
with the sign, You’ve Got a Friend
in Friend. The auction was a bust,
tables of orange sunburst jewelry
and green pressed glass.
It was a chance to hold hands
in the car, I guess,
listen to the radio play “Precious and Few,”
like we did the night I told you
why I did not want to move in,
or like we did at the theater,
watching Murphy’s Romance,
my jacket thrown over our hands.
Start with the granite stones
laid at the base of the white post fence
with grapevines wound through.
Someone had to place them there.
Go to the English Ivy
trained up the green slate wall,
sheltered even in winter.
How hard would it be
to stay in one place, year after year,
locked into family
and father? Every day
is a prop against leaving,
until you feel the weight upon you:
sour water in the plastic wading pool,
the play-worn spot
where grass will never grow.
Some day it will all come crashing down,
and you will think,
I must give up to save myself.
Look at the terraced yard
where the weeping willow
has shrugged off its leaves.
I’ve left, too.
The light has retreated into windows,
and the day has put its color away.
Someone will have to go back
and pick up what has fallen.
WHAT I KNOW AND DID NOT KNOW
I know my name. I remember |
when it was another word to learn,
a new taste on the tongue. Then a way
to reach me, a spoon against the rim of a glass.
Now a stroking inside my chest.
I know my age. When I was six
I did not know he would leave me
He can reach the words on the ceiling,