Annulment

I pasted my poems

about mom’s and pop’s deaths

into an e-mail

for my sister and brother.

 

Pop had just died

and the sense of finality

was still seeking a perch

in my soul.

 

Both poems

invoked their death beds,

where the three of us experienced

something sacred together,

something I’d failed to feel

when the five of us knelt

on wood in a hallway

and incanted

the mysteries of the rosary

back in the day,

before their divorce,

when mortal sin

was a blackened milk bottle

that befouled

a tawny page

in the Baltimore Catechism.

 

I hesitated about sending the poems.

 

My sister and brother

would probably cry.

Was that what I wanted?

 

A cargo plane lumbered low

over the Hudson,

rattling the house.

 

Five oblong rocks

that were balanced in front of me

in a zenlike pyramid

tumbled apart,

crashing on the windowsill.

 

I wondered what the message was.

 

Were they saying,

don’t burden your brother and sister

with lachrymose words?

 

Or,

thanks for thinking of us;

we’re dancing the fox trot.

 

February 12, 2003

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