John Pursley III
THE REPETITION OF THESE THINGS
I burn incense in the house to keep the secret
of my dying:
cones & sticks, candles sometimes spritz
Of cologne my mother saves for me, next to the well-worn
and other toiletries of the living.
My father says it’s nothing, but I read & re-read Tropic of Cancer,
for the truth of it, to scratch away what is
Already dead or dying, my skin sloughing toward some
of the heart, eyebrows furrowed like a silver fox.
O this hair, even in its tiny sprouts of twos and threes
seems to carry
a certain sense of rebuttal I cannot burn away.
And what for? What good does it do? The repetition
of these things:
the dust of living, Pine-Sol-ed & carpet scrubbed,
the neighbor’s old Camaro that sputters once, clicks & dies,
to its natural gray primer
matching the stretch of dry dirt straddled between the yards
where no grass
will grow. We lose an hour, gain an hour,
turn the page or put it down—just a scratch,
an itch, to say
I’m alive, to say this leads to that,
one foot and then the other: as if everything leading towards
my father’s figure—
I inhale . . . exhale to erase my former breath,
bite my lip, move on.
—from Rattle #22, Winter 2004
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