If You Were Here Now
I would write down every word you say
and fold them into an origami crane.
Your words would rustle into the air
with a whirring sound like grasshoppers
battering a field of rattling wheat—
each letter a drop of rain.
As the drops spill I catch them
in the cup of my hands
until my thirst is quenched.
I hear your voice in the shush of rain
and I sing along, my head thrown back,
my drenched ears ringing. I smell
your breath in the rain as sorrowful as
the first drops on the surface of water, or dust.
Your words turn into a creek in a coulee,
a river, water coming out of the spigot
in my kitchen where I wash and rewash
plates and bowls and reading glasses—
where I make chicken soup to feed
your children and grandchildren.
Plenty of water is left over
for two dogs yapping at the back door
begging to come in and lie down beside me
on the bed where you used to lie.
The possum isn’t pretending
snug up against the curb
on its bed of leaves
under a blanket of maggots.
I try not to breathe and grasp
his curled pink tail.
It does not come off
when I lift the heft of him
and drop him into a garbage bag.
The maggots wriggle.
Yesterday, I bought mint
at the farmer’s market.
I make mint juleps and mojitos.
Crushed mint infuses
my lingerie with its scent. I mix
mint jelly into vanilla ice cream.
A bouquet of mint and lilies
graces my sideboard.
The man I live with,
the one who should have
cleaned up the possum and will
soon leave me and move to Cuba,
says “there’s such a thing as
too much mint.”
Oregon poet Dale Champlin is the editor the Verseweavers poetry collections and director of Conversations With Writers, a monthly presentation by accomplished writers leading spirited discussions about the craft of writing. Dale has published in VoiceCatcher, North Coast Squid, Willawaw Journal, Mojave River Press, The Voices Project and other publications. During the month of January, 2019, Dale wrote a poem a day as part of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project.