Poetry | June 01, 2010

Features the poems:

  • Eclogue
  • Round and Round
  • Elegy with Boardwalk
  • There Are No Words
  • When the Detectives Arrived Sunday Morning



Nineteen Months


That spring I pursued the other side of anxiety.

I measured exact distances wherever I went:

days since your death, weeks until your birthday,

how many steps it took to cross the interstate park

where every three weeks the billboard changed

until Oscar season. How I missed being in love.

How I wanted to explain: I miss being in love.

The night your brother stopped talking to his wife

I knew it meant I’d have to choose sides.

I sat dumb and silent, smiling weakly at everything.

At the climbing gym he got faster up the hard-candy steps,

his fingertips smooth and dull. Your nephew

and I registered online an animatronic vulture

whose virtual home contained separate rooms

for each family member. The week he finally

blew out his back your brother slept on the sofa.

He said he didn’t want to wake the kids.

Each time he hobbled to the medicine cabinet

the television drowned out his sighs and moans.

I sat in my room listening carefully to music

I knew would make me weep.

Sleeping pills erased the dark room.

Through the window his truck engine turned over four times

before it began its morning loop around the city.

If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at an institution whose library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read this piece and the full archives of the Missouri Review for free. Check this list to see if your library is a Project Muse subscriber.