Together we put together the chain of causality that led from digging construction ditches
in old Boston Bean Town to an airfield in the Philippines that could land heavy American
fighters without flipping them forward on their props only after your adze hollowed
out the logs that floated the pipe that carried the pumped sand to cover the steel
landing strips to cushion the landings. The fun-dal-mentalists have a saying.
“your Karma ran over your Dogma” but now we discover in fact that it is
karma freed of all dogma that allows us to see meaning.
The coldest winter in years becomes the coolest spring
that rains down on our heads through the middle of your home,
the oldest house on the hill, perhaps even a historic landmark,
a legacy you have finally left despite your many years of ritual accumulation: the buses
in the semi-circle of the stone drive, the sailboats parked in the thicket of the side yard
the Boston Whaler slowly rotting beneath the rotting rails of the veranda, the hallways
and rooms filled to the ceilings with all the things that would immediately be needed
as soon as that little bit of it was gone.
And now even that beauty the Basset Hound Cleopatra who lived out that whole long snowing winter
in our entry hall next to the chirping, hissing radiator is gone now, too, to the Basset Rescue League
and for all the times I had to get up early or make one last trip downstairs before bedtime
to take her out and maybe come in with her poop stuck to the bottom of my shoe,
I miss her, I miss her ears that drooped in the water bowl and her poor cataract
glazed eyes looking up mournful and her waddling butt swaying on those little
legs and even her gravelly bark insistent on her milk bone biscuit.
The whole house once so full, it sometimes seemed there was not any room for you and me, for us
is now empty as if we, ourselves have already left when we like ghosts are still living up above
who can hardly maintain their balance in these suddenly too wide halls and gaping
stairwells that threaten to send us rolling down to the basement and this vacuum,
this vacancy where we might fall and fall into where you once were.
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.