James Hoch

I want to dedicate this poem to my son

who I worry into a misshapen form of worry.

And to worry itself, how it hangs

like a blanket over the head of a horse.

Why do they blanket the heads of horses

standing by themselves alone in a field,

not seeing, but snorting and roaming,

their skins seeking each other’s aloneness?

I have no idea. I have never owned a horse,

though property is no giver of ideas.

Forgive me, my mother has died,

and I am trying to understand, so my son

understands why his father’s saying

nothing in the car, the yard, the table.

My mother has died. Do you know?

It’s like standing in a field, swallows

carving flit and whir and hatch,

then it’s like the field being gone.

No one notices in the clumsy fog.

Do you see there is no distance?

She is not a thing. There are no figures

for this grief, the air tastes of ground.

Have you ever lost all context?

I tack this poem to a telephone pole

that survives drought, survives flood,

though it is made of heat and water.

The other day, walking across the room,

my son looked at me like he was eyeing

a sick planet, then put his arms around

his weeping father, who can’t make it

through a meal without weeping,

as if holding a planet might heal it.

I want to thank him, but only have this poem,

a raft I’ve made from the skins

of flayed horses I’ve filled with air.

It floats between us. It is wrong he feels

asked to wade the river, his love

a busted hydrant on a forever sunny day.

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