As If to Ralph Angel

William Olsen

Tens of thousands of deaths ago

before we had the time

to start saying goodbye

every last body still counts the most

every word more than

any word before or after

every word always

gets the best of us

each was a mistake

without any end

now no delays

now no abandoned stars or houses

no more fatherless

motherless feelings

but for me still here

trees are fraught with headlights

the only lights around

drive into sight

then drive away

light always in a hurry

travels through trees

to be and to be away

it’s a little life and then

accident without end

you got out of this day

you got out of night  

laughing at dark and at light

throwing your head back

at your never having seen

fireflies in Vermont

come back and disappear

to reappear again as

risings disappearing

all night high in the treetops

invisible to us there

as our memories are

almost all the time

memories without a beginning

or an intermission

or need of an end

first person not my brother

to call me brother

and nuance it just enough

both brother and

not not brother

long crucial talks

indispensable gives and takes

over nothing I can remember

that spooked us both

laughing though in another life

exactly like this one

we might otherwise

have shunned the other

we circumstances

ignorance is widening 

I’m not to touch my face

if one or another neighbor smiles

and waves a hand

in a common loneliness and fear

I smile and wave back

our last conversation

took up a lot of subjects and how

thought and feelings

never really blow away

I felt less alone with

my day hearing of yours

it was a lovely conversation

you might not remember

even if you were alive

I seem to be working

on never finishing anything

whatever your voice is now

I can see just far enough

into the dark to know

I will not find you there


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