A native of Johnstown, NY, I retired in June 2016 after 29 years of teaching writing and literature at Ripon College in Wisconsin. I've published six collections of poetry, including Stutter Monk and Second Wind; I also co-edited (with Kate Sontag) the essay anthology After Confession: Poetry as Confession. Essays, reviews, and individual poems have appeared widely, both in print and online. In recent years I've spent nearly as much time on photography as poetry. A gallery of my work is online here: http://instagram.com/doctorjazz
Listening for Your Name
As a father steals into his child’s half-lit bedroom
slowly, quietly, standing long and long
counting the breaths before finally slipping
back out, taking care not to wake her,
and as that night-lit child is fully awake the whole
time, with closed eyes, measured breathing,
savoring a delicious blessing she couldn’t
name but will remember her whole life,
how often we feel we’re being watched over,
or that we’re secretly looking in on the ones
we love, even when they are far away,
or even as they are lost in the sleep
no one wakes from—what we know
and what we feel can fully coincide, like love
and worry, like taking care in full silence
and secrecy, like darkness and light together.
Posters The Sun Is Erasing
Nine months missing, stolen from the clear center
of a midwestern parking lot, she smiles
from store windows, church bulletin boards,
the odd car bumper or library checkout.
Faded to cluelessness. The bloodhounds and psychics
have long since retired to fresher mysteries.
The dredged ponds are silting in. Those canisters
for spare change at every convenience store
now gone or pushed back for snack food and lottery.
Only those who knew her still pay the interest
on her vanishing, this cheery woman with
two different haircuts. She'll never headline again
unless she's found, and only a handful of the devout
can still pray in that faith. As sun steadily bleaches
all away, even her winning grin will evaporate
like dew from midmorning asphalt.
No one wants to be first to tear down this image
from the civic mind, so she wanes
indecently, in plain view, until her dumb
and generous mystery shall exactly match our own.
First published in Stutter Monk. (Flume Press, 2000)
©2017 David Graham
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