after Stanley Kunitz
I wake in a brown hotel room
and things are changing.
My body is swelling with white
light and there’s a song playing
somewhere inside a static speaker.
Outside the wind is turbine grey
and a red corvette revs beneath
the rain. I hear my mother and father
in the next room. They sound happy
the way lovers sound when drinking
gin while spinning under an ochre moon.
When I call there is no answer
and when I check the phonebook
it shows their names followed by:
disconnected in another world.
I keep trying anyway.
I give up, and retreat back to bed
with my love. When I sleep
there’s an escalator that carries
me to where they are,
and I watch them in my translucent
skin as I move through their skin
saying, I just need to touch you.
I’m told there are institutes in Paris where you can learn how to forget the dead. If I thought that was possible I would go. I’m told they make you wear special helmets. Electroshock fashioned headwear they say. The pamphlet says they zap out the grief. If I thought that was possible I would go. Once, they sent me reading material inside a snow globe, one shake and the words floated inside. This is an apparatus for becoming a lonely estate it said. That is the first step to forgetting everyone. Talk to yourself in the street it said. Say hello to strangers. Always revert back to the conversation with yourself. Never look yourself in the eye it said. Hoard the sugar packets from every coffee shop you frequent. Save them for Christmas morning. If it’s not snowing climb onto your neighbor’s roof and pour them out, all at the same time while singing, let it snow. Run holding your palms over both ears. Stop wearing watches on your wrists. Hang them around your neck instead and make sure they’re abnormally large. Tell everyone that your parents are dead it said. Keep an extra sleeping bag between their graves and invite someone to sleep over. Don’t forget to bring flowers it said. If asked your occupation, say photographer, and tell them to hold still while you pull out an etch-a-sketch from your satchel. Make sure they know you have the fastest draw in the South. If someone asks how your parents died tell them your father’s body overflowed with white light and that your mother had an accidental overdose. Your ETA has always been too late it said. Please read the fine print it said. We cannot help you from here.
Jeremy Francis Morris is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry has appeared in Mason’s Road, Spires, and his manuscript Litany as a Life Raft was a recent finalist for the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize. Jeremy is Co-owner of Town & Anchor Apothecary, along with his wife, and resides in Illinois.