Something Lasting

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December 1, 2015 by The Citron Review

by Derek Graf

 

– After Jonathan Johnson

Look at this: tonight it’s been snowing
for twenty years. You said our bodies must

shift into new forms, but you never showed me
how to live here: anywhere in America

my face would look the same as it does tonight.
The sky narrows into dawn, and the mountains

you wrote about have never been less visible.
Listen: birds disappear inside the bare, quiet trees.

I was arrogant, sure, but I still hear your voice,
that simple thunder in your throat. I imagined

snow growing from under the ground, but now
the winter’s half-dead already. Already,

morning arrives in the fists of American hail.
Today’s the kind of day I promise myself

I’ll quit drinking. That’s why I’m writing to you,
Jonathan: here is the one place for correction,

for a final conciliation. This is the only time
I can ask sincerely: have I been gone so long?

Tonight I sat at the bar late enough to find myself
wandering through gravel lots saying your name.

I know I have failed at even appropriate gratitude.
Look at this snow dissolving under streetlamps:

you don’t care how it got here and neither do I,
but we could pretend it’s still falling, the cornices

fulfilled, the long fields erased, and no sun,
no sense of where the end might be.

 

Derek’s poems have appeared in Portland Review, The Boiler, and Radar Poetry. His chapbook What the Dying Man Asked Me is available through ELJ Publications. He lives and works in Stillwater, OK.

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Snow on brush in desert

IMAGE CREDIT: Jill Katherine Chmelko. Protest Road, Winter. 2019.

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