Rent in the neighborhood is dropping.
Rent everywhere is dropping. Can you spare
a little CHANGE,
asks the sign where my bank,
merging with the bank across the street,
fails. I want to own land in my country.
I want to make my place in this city certain.
The fish in the bar next to the laundromat:
do they know the limits of their translucent world?
When my wife died I thought,
All within us praise his holy name,
His power and glory ever more proclaimed.
Even then I knew that life didn't really end,
that it would fissure into two places,
inside and out. The woman I love now
distinguishes absence from loss.
When there is no fog on a nearby hill
we walk through her old neighborhood
to the city's highest point.
That spring I pursued the other side of anxiety.
I measured exact distances wherever I went:
days since your death, weeks until your birthday,
how many steps it took to cross the interstate park
where every three weeks the billboard changed
until Oscar season. How I missed being in love.
How I wanted to explain: I miss being in love.
The night your brother stopped talking to his wife
I knew it meant I'd have to choose sides.
I sat dumb and silent, smiling weakly at everything.
At the climbing gym he got faster up the hard-candy steps,
his fingertips smooth and dull. Your nephew
and I registered online an animatronic vulture
whose virtual home contained separate rooms
for each family member. The week he finally
blew out his back your brother slept on the sofa.
He said he didn't want to wake the kids.
Each time he hobbled to the medicine cabinet
the television drowned out his sighs and moans.
I sat in my room listening carefully to music
I knew would make me weep.
Sleeping pills erased the dark room.
Through the window his truck engine turned over four times
before it began its morning loop around the city.
John W. Evans
The Missouri Review Summer 2010
Copyright © 2010 by John W. Evans
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission