Boxcars & scotch & cheap
bourbon on rocks, nothing’s neat: we steady
chasing love from ghosts over drinks half-slung.
Last night your sister offered us money
for making the long trip to visit, then the two of you
quizzed your mother on the names of the living & the dead &
corrected every wrong answer.
Your mother kept calling me your husband instead of your son.
How can family be stranger the closer you become?
We ain’t slurring yet, but well on our way
when you ask do I remember your sister’s name
scrawled in concrete in the backyard: Siri was here — 1968,
& how the yard & the slab & the house
got up & left us one day & if you had more time
you would’ve burned the whole fucking city down.
You got me here so you wouldn’t be lonely,
so one day I could conjure your mother’s best voice —
my one good trick.
It’s been forty years since you’ve spoken mother, sister
into faces that owned the words. One last round, let’s swap
another story in this shit Virginia bar without a single-
malt scotch. Grab a few tall boys for the nursing home:
your mother’s lonely, your sister’s on her way.about the author