Peter Cooley

And Then

all the little perishings! The little!
More wounding to me than the evening news’
rat-a-tat-tat in other continents!
The star inside the mayonnaise jar I find
which flickers like a firefly, then dies,
the moment of my mother’s face at death–
all I can bring back: her eyes, glazed, unmoved,
never to take me in another instant,
glaze like a fine ice window panes present,
as they watch us, winter still unmelting.
Even the minutes while I write these lines–
the Master Poets swear they can arrest time–
can’t cauterize the sting, the minute leavings.
They’d show me my face as the world leaves me
four score and ten plus one, my father’s age
dying. I doubt I’ll catch that kind of luck.
Lines quicken my hand, hurrying this down.
They quicken everything. That’s what lines do.

Peter Cooley is the author of eight books, seven of which have been published with Carnegie Mellon. Also forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon is Cooley’s new poetry collection, Night Bus to the Afterlife, which will debut in February 2014. His poems are forthcoming in The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hopkins Review and Miramar.