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Prairie Schooner 80.3 (2006) 74-77

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Eurydice, and: My ever after, and: Last


If you don't look back as we come
up the stairs, if you let go,
if you leave me invisible
in that moment, just a sound
behind, a dream the stairwell
is having, I'll be released
into kitchen, into daylight,
I'll hold the ladder, I'll wet
the rag, but if you turn,
if you wonder, has she
brought the screwdriver, did she
remember the roller,
I'll be pulled back
by pool table, by couch,
I'll hear your screams
for someone to open
another gallon of paint,
to answer the phone,
and I'll change
the channel, I'll adjust
the afghan around my feet,
and you will recall
how lovely I was
in my bandanna, my knee-ripped
jeans, as sun
eats your skin and gnats confound
the air you breathe. [End Page 74]

My ever after

The word paraíso is on my table, Portuguese
for paradise. I will:

put it in a red bowl with raspberries
and yogurt, eat it with cinnamon, eat it
from the vagina of my wife;

put it in the shotgun and shoot it
into the fog of the mountain, the breath
of the sky.

Now I look at my shoes, which never struck off
on their own, never found a place to stand;
at the illiterate book case; at my hands
that aren't wings but dream as feathers do.

It would not be a place where bleeding stops,
where screams wear mittens, where skulls
apply blush, it would not be a place.

There would be one thing different from here –
the last maple leaf doesn't fall, stays
the winter, waving;
all of the voices in the hospital
are flutes for one second, 9 floors
of music; once, you get to turn the clock
back three minutes, once
you get a practice kiss, once
you're allowed to walk
across the bottom of the sea and on

the other side, someone waits
with a towel, someone who likes [End Page 75]
to talk about slot cars and how the fragrances
get into the little bottles and how
the different shadows from different kinds
of storms could be arranged
in a scrap book if we'd think of them
as our children and take their pictures:

the camera that would do this
would see that it's not all darkness,
that there's light hidden in the terror.
And not lie about the terror.


My father's
dead father's hand
is on his dead father's shoulder
in the picture.

(I always wave at boats on the horizon.)

There will be no more sons of sons
in this family.

(Sometimes I pretend it's me waving back.)

When I see my brothers,
we hug awkwardly, like empty
tubes of toothpaste.

(Sometimes it is.) [End Page 76]

I look at my father
and know
there's an uncharted emotion
for the end of sperm.

(And I wonder, from the boat, why
is that man trying to throw me a rope?)

Bob Hicok's most recent book is Insomnia Diary (University of Pittsburgh). His most recent poems appear in the American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, the Iowa Review, and the Southern Review.



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