WHY I DIDN’T GO TO YOUR FUNERAL
Of course you didn’t know what you’d made of me.
A blubbering focus, the frantic epicenter
around which soft hands gathered
to instruct and caress. For three weeks I moaned
and jerked like a carnival ride, owing visits,
wading an amaranthine stream of sorry, sorry,
sorry. Then I cleaned your house, took your dog,
proposed quiet solutions to the immobile planet
of your mother’s head. When she said
I just can’t would you go to the funeral parlor
and pick up the ashes, I acquiesced.
Her voice a burned lampshade. Leaving the drive,
the tires turned and scratched and
I couldn’t tell who was being cared for anymore.
I didn’t know if I cared. I’d witnessed the white
taken hold, blanketing you silent on the gurney
as that water left my eyes, uncontrolled,
a fact of pouring. You weren’t autonomic
and then professional hands slid you into flames
to complete the notion that you couldn’t exist.
Oh, your friends came to the house,
stood in a clump beneath the railing from which
you’d dangled your noose. Daisies, I think,
tied with a string, and a picture that kept
blowing over, and nervous shoes in the dust.
It was ritual enough since you didn’t exist
and the apologies had been stoppered up
as though there weren’t enough left.
They were hording them now, the sounds
and letters having returned to simple shapes
like a face stared upon intently for too long.
On the patio of a treehouse, a man said
he hated you and I tried to get mad.
But he meant it and I didn’t, and we hugged
until my apathy returned again, warm
and cool and white as a corpse. Fuck her,
he said. God damn her. Nod, I said. Look away
and nod, then walk to the car. You know I didn’t
even send flowers to the service. Not a note or card.
I pillowed myself to the shape of a day
and waited for a head, which never came.
Nothing came. I would’ve gone to say goodbye
but I was all that was left. I drank instead.
—from Rattle #56, Summer 2017
Tribute to Poets with Mental Illness
Colin Pope: “Since my ex-girlfriend’s suicide, I’ve become fairly obsessed with the intersections between the living and the dead. Surprise, surprise; a poet writing about death. But, really, I feel like I’m trying to explore the directional oddities of the human mind when it contemplates its own demise. Williams has that wonderful poem about his ‘English Grandmother,’ whose last words are that she’s tired of the trees in the window. It seems that everything has equal value at the end, and thus nothing really has any value. Of course, this type of thinking is what a psychiatrist would call a ‘depressive feature.’ But there must be a place for these thoughts, even if they’re created as a sort of armor against the real, crushing weight of survivor’s guilt.”