Your good days surprised us
with sunshine’s warm waves
wandering over a dusty dash.
We barely ate; it was early.
Our stomachs weren’t ready
for the morning’s full flavor
and your throat’s off-key tune,
but we sank our baby teeth
into Breakfast with the Beatles.
You introduced us to Eleanor,
Rocky, Bill, and Polythene Pam.
A whole lineup of characters—
lonely lovers and wanderers,
walruses and birds that sing,
stream stories through stereos,
and bypass dog-eared books.
Winding our long way to church,
I put aside Sunday school verse.
I believed in the drive to and from
and smiling skies, no marmalade
ones with mallows or diamonds,
instead sleepy blues, gray blots,
and sneek peeks of goldish light.
“Shh, you can hear a toilet flush
in the background of this one,”
you whispered, and we giggled,
tilting our ears to the car radio.
You’d lean, breathe a sigh into
the window. “Paul wrote Martha
my Dear for his silly sheepdog
or maybe a shy girl he loved.”
I got this idea to stretch out long
on our carpet, write songs for you.
“Writing the words of a sermon
that no one will hear,” I’d think.
You told me to continue my lines,
smiled secrets because you knew
you were my muse and inspiration.
After church, I’d add flesh to you
so even lovely Rita and sexy Sadie
would phrase their admiration.
I’d remember the bells braided
into your hair, a silver chorus
jingling behind feather earrings,
a trail of l’air du temps perfume.
I’d call the song by your full name.
Sundays weren’t tired of meaning.
They weren’t spent sick in bed—
your body a rolling pin pressing
pain into a mattress like unbaked
bread—nor alone in a white room,
no windows gleaming sun or song.
Your favorites, I Wanna Hold your
Hand and Girl, wore fragile wings
simply like waving hello goodbye
to familiar strangers in passing cars.