Did You Think I’d Forgotten? (Familiar Elegy)

Did You Think I’d Forgotten?

Did you think Iâ??d forgotten what day it is?
Did you think reminiscence comes easy?
Wait for my footsteps approaching
Youâ??ll hear me whisper something to God
No matter, Concern yourself not
These mortal flowers are for you
This little poem is for you

I held your wrinkled hands with faded lifelines
That I could measure with a ruler
I was grasping your hand with an arm by your shoulder
Trying to make heat while your feet had already grown colder
I heard the beep
Beep of the machine
Inside, I calculated the seconds between each electronic syllable

Your daughters both cried when you closed your eyes
For what would be the last time
I wanted you to know
I have not seen them since
They live several blocks away
Iâ??m sorry
We grew apart anyway

Did you think I forgot what day it is?
Did you think I would not remember that trench coat
I never wore it after that
In fact it still smells of salt from the freezing rain
When I stepped out on a hospital roof because I needed air
I needed to see my own breath dance like a man made cloud
Needed to be away from all those people mourning
While you still hung around
My heart is allergic to the salinity of tears
And the frailty of eager hearts
Or rather anxious minds

I read passage after passage
Did you hear me?
Did you see white lights?
I searched desperately for an angel
I hear they stand in corners
Like in movies
But I could not see
Perhaps it had disguised itself as a falling snowflake outside your window

You, your body had lifted me when I was a boy
You, your body now disappears between white sheets
You, your body chopped wood and built homes
You, your kidneys now attached to a machine for draining

Did you think I forgot the time
You told me I should stop wearing orange glasses?
I thought I looked cool back then
But you said I should never hide my eyes
For my lashes could touch a lemon sky
And make summer lemonade

I remember you drove me to the airport
I mustâ??ve been 10
My father in the car ahead
You, driving patiently behind
â??Faster! Faster!â?? I yelled
Iâ??d forgotten that
You reminded me
I had not seen you since

Did you think Iâ??d forgotten?
Adventures in your blue van
Out into farm land
Picking ripe strawberries
Eating mostly
Guilty red stains around my mouth
The farmerâ??s wife shaking her head at you

You, your smile revealing dentures and a golden tooth
You, your lips now frozen as I wash you
You, your arms with cuts from strawberry fields
You, your arms I fix to your sides
Covering now ancient cuts with wet powdered camphor and sandalwood
The Muslim way

I stood for hours I swear
I read all that I could
My feet gave way
The blood was rushing
Faster than my lips could bare to move
Or my heart could digest
I want you to know I wouldâ??ve went on
If you had went on
I wouldâ??ve kept on
Did I save your soul?
Did I help?
Did it hurt?
Did you bleed?
Did you feel it ripping away?
Did you see?
Was it bright?
Was it darker than the night?
Was it sudden?
Was it slow?
Did you feel
The undertow?
Is it true?
What they say?
About the angels
On that day?
Did they question?
Did you answer?
Did you think Iâ??d forgotten how it snowed
The moment
The cancer took you?

It has never stopped snowing since


Your Two Piasters: