Uneasy Travelers on the Ghost Trail, 2008
For Mark Lee
When I returned it didn’t matter. Twenty years
in the hardwood forests watching thick
green rivers weave their way in places
I’d forgotten—it was at Lake Nokomis
I saw the comet bear down from the northwest
sky and should have known it’d take a long time
to sort out the future. Now I am here
thinking of a desert home, whether or not
I could stand the small black widows
or even the sunlight—I’ve gotten used to
the thick oak and maple filling most
of the forgotten southwestern sky—
most importantly, there is something here
to keep me from dying. The first lilac buds and viney
morning glories scatter patches of color that conquer the winter.
So where are you today, dear traveler? I cannot
envy one man’s death in Tucson
Arizona, cannot figure if you swerved
to avoid the sun or simply because you erred
in reading a map too closely, to confidently.
I am here on the other side of the country
beginning a ghost song for you—lately,
unsure of the afterlife and whether or not
to be brave, I have sacrificed my only peace
today to pray for your deliverance.
Where we are tonight depends on my life now—
on a clear straight road in central Illinois
one summer I stopped to watch the grasshoppers
flick across thick grass plains. I was on my way
to New Mexico, and had stopped because I could
drive no more with out becoming drowsy.
From far away you meant to call me
on my meanness, what I said one lost day
years before your hero died.