Karine Leger, Shallow Freeze (acrylic on canvas)

At least once each day I learn
you've died. Not the result
of forgetting. Now

the fault of the spring forsythia
so spectacularly out of hiding, 
now of the tax form’s ornate

instructions, now the baying
cat intent on breakfast– 
anything to fill the mind

before it empties again, exposes
the fact of your absence like sand
that underscores the tide,

like a terrible agate toothing
from the center of a moment plain
as stone. Perhaps some truths,

too vast to be grasped, must
instead accrue–ice over
winter water. So cue

this glitterati of grief
on a plane over Minneapolis, 
city lights like thrown

coins, mighty Mississippi cracked
black down the center, all water
the same whatever its millennial

digressions, whatever its sojourn
through culvert or kidney
or cloud. Let’s say the problem

is one of momentum. Your life
by most measures less than half-
lived. Decades left to phantom

limb the date dash date
which means to stand
as your full sum. What then

of your hungers, wakened
that September morning
as every other?

What of the vitality
which rose from you like heat
from asphalt, more

than one body could use? 
If your acts, once begun, 
reach completion, hello,

hello, are you still with us? 
If the planted bulbs
bloom, if the referendum

passes, if your husband, 
reading saved journals, 
finds himself newly loved?


Emily Van Kley