It is late at night, cold and damp
The air is filled with tobacco smoke.
My brain is worried and tired.
I pick up the encyclopedia,
I don’t mind the human race.
I’ve got pretty used to them
In these past twenty-five years.
I don’t mind if they sit next
I pass your home in a slow vermilion dawn,
The blinds are drawn, and the windows are open.
The soft breeze from the lake
Remember that breakfast one November —
Cold black grapes smelling faintly
Of the cork they were packed in,
Hard rolls with hot, white flesh,
The summer of nineteen eighteen
I read The Jungle and The
Research Magnificent. That fall
They are murdering all the young men.
For half a century now, every day,
In the years to come they will say,
“They fell like the leaves
In the autumn of nineteen thirty-nine.”
November has come to the forest,
The mountain road ends here,
Broken away in the chasm where
The bridge washed out years ago.
The first scarlet larkspur glitters
Somebody has given my
Baby daughter a box of
Old poker chips to play with.
Today she hands me one while
Under your illkempt yellow roses,
Delia, today you are younger
Than your son. Two and a half decades –
The family monument sagged askew,