Because we knew we were nearing the end
of our long term together, my parents and I,
this last year of their moment on earth,
watched television all day, drawing us closer.
It was our camp fire when I visited.
Morning: the news of last night’s murders in Detroit,
Noon: the latest on the morning’s death count.
Evening: after 4: 30 dinner, more bodies piling up.
Of course, I was bored. Boredom was a balm
to watching them descend the long hill I’m still climbing.
We talked about my son, sixteen: his car scoping out heights of the night.
Because he was theirs they loved him-the comfort of lineage.
And after they both died, while I cleaned the apartment,
I kept the television on without ceasing.
I prayed the kaleidoscope of color would bring back
that ravening, the hollow in my chest
I grew up with, always starved for more from them.
Dying betrayed that hunger, leaving me everything
in trust. Television worked: clamor and flash,
childhood in fast-forward, not the numb question of immortality.
PETER COOLEY has a new book, A Place Made of Starlight, coming out at the end of this year from Carnegie Mellon. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2002, New Letters, Commonweal, and Prairie Schooner. He has taught creative writing at Tulane since 1975.
Copyright New England Review Winter 2002
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