Back to Issue One.

No Elegy



No. No elegy: Instead, the car
stalled on the freeway, the passengers
departed and the driver fled.

The driver, who was my friend, who
wanted once, and was, who

dreamed and drove and listened
to stupid music on the radio.

Who waited, who ate, who
spoke and spent and finally arrived
at the foreign country
that bore his name—
and of all the choices
he ever made
there were three choices left:

Violence, illness, old age.

No. No choice:
You refused, of course, to make it. Sailboat
slipping under a wave, you
swam away, or

you were rescued by a boat captained
by sorrowful ladies
of a certain age
who would love you as you’d never
been loved enough in life—

as mothers, or lovers, or the slow
passing of certain summer days.
Their parasols, your shade.

And my little candle-stub
in a great cathedral, and
the prayers I sometimes remember
to say, and

the long low beautiful notes of a bassoon being
played by a terrible thing—

No. Not even this:

A bird!

A bird that makes its nest
in the highest towers
of the children’s hospital
out of the softest
children’s hair.

You loved nothing
better than a lovely terror—

Yes. That nest. That nest
is where you are.

Laura Kasischke has a new collection of poetry, Space, in Chains, forthcoming in 2011 with Copper Canyon Press. She has published seven other collections of poetry and seven novels. She teaches at the University of Michigan and lives in Chelsea, Michigan.