TO MY SON ON SEPTEMBER 15th
It matters that your grandfather is dead.
My father, who spoke to you as equal
and let you help refinish furniture
and hunt for sea glass. It matters
tonight when I find you crying in bed
with his photo. We talk, and when that fails
I try the only other thing I know:
we go outside to walk the dog and watch
the leaves twitch with moon. I see the stars.
Your grandfather taught me about the stars, I say,
and right then we see a bright tail flare and fade.
You tell me it’s your grandfather who heard us
talking, and your sobs call the dog to nose your hand.
Later, your voice is whisper when I tuck you in.
It was him, you say, that shooting star.
It wasn’t. But I can’t bear to say it, so I hold you
until goodnight, and afterward I consider the sky
and its voices, words shared with my father
before he died, the movement of space, pushing
corners of our universe together, pulling others apart.
He didn’t hear us. He couldn’t have, but
in my room much later, the house asleep, the sky
above, I move to the window and watch, because
what do I really know about anything?
—from Rattle #75, Spring 2022
Mike Bove: “These days, I write more and more poems about memories and small parts of my days. There’s plenty of big things going on in the world right now; I like paying attention to things that feel a bit smaller.”