Gary Whitby

Adding up the Days

First there was a bird that spoke
inside a tree inside my hand.
The tree then grew beside my house,
the one we lived in all those years.
Now there is that same old oak.
It’s summer, and a train appears
out of nowhere. People stand
and watch my wife take off her blouse.
Then the leaves are falling where
we used to walk that arching lane.
An airplane’s landing on our road,
a huge jetliner swooshing down.
There’s a sweetness in the air.
Autumn trees burn all through town,
where the evening skies explode,
giving birth to wind and rain.

Next I’m standing by my grave,
watching mourners come and go.
My wife and kids all wipe their eyes.
Old friends drop a flower, then leave.
I walk up to them. Then I wave
and try to catch one by the sleeve.
But soon it’s all goodbyes, goodbyes,
and no one’s even said hello.

Gary Whitby studied at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop with, among others, Donald Justice, who directed his MFA thesis. He currently teaches English at Tarrant County College, Trinity River branch, Fort Worth, Texas.