I am an English professor at a two-year college where I teach writing (creative and expository) and literature. My poetry has appeared in a number of small magazines, and I have two poetry chapbooks, That’s the Way the Music Sounds, from Finishing Line Press (2009) and Talking to the Mirror from The Last Automat Press (2010). In addition to loving poetry, I am also a fledgling mystery novelist in search of an agent. I live with another English professor and poet, Dr. Van Hartmann, and would rather be rich than famous. My website: www.laurelpeterson.com
After your Dying, I am What Remains
For Hindemith, Sonata for Unaccompanied Viola, Op. 25, No.1
I & II
I sit in the darkening afternoon,
the cat pacing around me,
tense for her feeding,
music scratching at ears, nose, eyes,
and the snow falls,
and the falling of it obliterates the landscape
and memory is obliterated with it
as you also are being sucked under the cold
and I am left alone to manage
and I cannot.
Lost among your weeds in this silvery afternoon
are the haunted moments when faith abounded--
when we could still hear
past your screams
and my tears
and the new puppy made tomorrow seem possible
Where are you?
All has gone black,
has become a space of strafed skin,
burnt edges, rough stone,
and the impatient calling
of other women who caress my bones
and cart yours away
in small neat baskets while I weep
over each, nurturing your last dry remains
with my tears,
a few for each basket
so each may sprout a new woman.
For all the hate we mixed in our love,
I am so lonely without you.
I carry you in me in regret,
piecemeal, a joint of your finger in my hip,
your belly curled in my neck muscles,
the dark strands of your hair twisted
across my throat.
Then you were gone,
suddenly, a flash of light,
not even a movement or a cry.
Your soul hovered
a few wing shudders, rapid
and contained, flimsy,
and before I could say good-bye,
the crowds arrived and crowded and sympathized
and pressed flowers on me,
and fed me sandwiches and Scotch
and hovered like your soul hovered
ever present in the background
a hum and buzz
under all the hum and buzz
of the hysteria of
burning and burying you
and the crowds crowding around
with their perfume and eyes and
hot breath and incessant
Back in the darkening afternoon:
more light has slipped
from my grasp into
the timelessness of tomorrow
where somehow I may find you.
Longing will speed me there
yet I am loathe to finish
what little light may yet be mine.
Not because I don’t long for you
but perhaps because
the dying light may be
all there is of you.
"After Your Dying, I am What Remains" was previously published in That's the Way the Music Sounds, (Finishing Line Press, 2009).
©2015 Laurel Peterson