As far as words go, the door is open: space is immeasurably empty
full of old light and time measures the prolific nameless: the casual some in photographs
or before, the weight of which is unknown unless: go back a few years, the plastic slide rule left in the top desk drawer becomes usable again, then drink one glass of wine in celebration and sputter as the cellular motors of old brains sputter perfectly yet afraid in museums: their drivers wear jackets, stand unmoving in corners and never return to comprehend their loss.
Seagulls in cherry trees are themselves an orchard of sea birds come to land come to eat cherries the trees laden with cherries and birds and on the steps a man sits with his dog pulled close against his side but looking elsewhere.
The home not yet taken away into words the woman returned not yet drinking her hot coffee on this unusually hot day the last perhaps before the cooler weather chills the sorrow of empty trees and whatever is said before something is said.
Everything to say about wine red cherries in a bowl between us and the sound of his voice asks about flying the tall yearn of camellias the dogs barking at what in the next room where there is paper and pen the memories of a conversation.
A conversation that on some days will not stop talking about whatever we will not stop hearing. I listen and hear my father’s voice that comes from these pages that are in the margins of these pages look like snow feel like ice.
He always looked unsmiling straight into the camera. He wrote his world. I read his world. My father rides a sleigh over the text where it is too cold to be awake in this room empty of anyone not on paper.
They bring themselves to us or we go there or keep going until we are farther away than mere far away we are gone or tired of going so at a motel and eat bad coleslaw in the attached café all day we have been out looking but for what and the noise at 3AM is not what we want so away we leave on a fast road highway life where the rest stops seem to be planted with berry brambles that take their ramble all over the unarmed dry ground and against just my ankle because you have left us taking the ginger candy with you chewing it until that cavity in your mouth grows far and wide you turn inside out climb the tender trail on the east side stop before going drink from your water bottle until the pit in your tooth floods fills with water grasses nervous dreams and here you are in a photograph years later.
Someone tells the road outside where to go or it tells us and it goes wanting to be there instead of here where nearness grates with a long ago sound of chalk on chalkboard we held our ears until we were deaf from holding and did not hear the splash of the swimmer rising for breath out of the water then falling back into the water the dolphin uncaught sings about freedom while the busy water stands arms akimbo until there is no reason not to leave your mouth and its talking shelf of books Ophelia floats by taking a road of water a boat that sinks but here’s one in full sail this windy journey of going going gone wait I think you try to make a U-turn before you’re flattened by a truck rise and eat a traveling cloud.
Carol Ellis was born in Detroit, Michigan, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. She’s been around the academic block with her Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa. Her poems and essays are published in anthologies and journals including ZYZZYVA, Comstock Review, The Cincinnati Review, Black Heart Magazine, and Cider Press Review. She is author of I Want A Job (Finishing Line Press 2014). She has spent time in Cuba writing a book and giving readings.