[from Bob Hicok’s This Clumsy Living, University of Pittsburgh, 2007]
Two living wills
The father has a box. And in this box is a list
of all the boxes the father has. What their contents are.
What the name of each box is. There is The Box
of Falling Down and The Box of Multiple Universes.
The list is in a language the father hopes to pass
to the son. A language of looking for the error
in the threading of a bolt, of keeping the standard
and Phillips screwdrivers from having sex.
The father has written at the bottom of the list,
“One day you will be reading these words, which are,
one day you will be reading these words,
and a list of everything will reveal itself to you
as the redemptive work of a lifetime, and owning
a box for everything will help you trust the afterlife
can be assured through ritual, and you will find
in each of these boxes a piece of what I feel,
and fuse these pieces in your mind, and I will exist.
The mother sets cups on the lawn for rain or snow,
whatever the sky is saying. She goes about the house
looking moonful and placing the cups on the clock
and the back of the couch. The mother tells the son
to walk between the circles of the cups
and hold his face above each one and be judged
by the waters. At some point, the mother’s blood
turned to feathers, the mother’s thoughts
moved into her shoes, the mother’s sex
hung itself on the line to be dried by the wind.
The mother’s letter to the son is written in his sleep.
She leans to his ear and breathes the smell
of his listening. “When there is a choice to be made,”
the mother says, “make the felt choice, the choice
closest to the color blue, the choice most
like thanking the host after the meal, the choice
that radiates beyond the visible wavelengths.”
The mother remains in the room long after night
has set off on its sled, her fingers touching
the cool edge of the sheet, her thoughts moving
over the son like the beads of a rosary.
This Clumsy Living (Pitt Poetry Series)