The Elder Statesman of rain; (for Neil Millar, poet and teacher)
My neighbor's newborn babe kept me awake last night -- thinking of you. Have you really gone? Moved on without a word; no anxious wishes, no head turned back with regret? It is only I've learned how carefully you traveled, taking pains to unpack everything before you go, canceling all reservations, leaving late to arrive on time. (In my mind I see you waiting at the station, whistling Brahms, nodding to strangers, great parcels of light in your arms.) If I close my eyes, you are here again -- seated before your class, reading the poems like some general amnesty for believers, pronouncing with delight eac scurry of beauty in a still, muted world. You are seated like a distinguished ambassador from an unmapped foreing country I've heard only whispers about -- the elder statesman of the Rain nation -- some poet-in-residens behind our eyes. Some words are too tender to even think alone. Didn't you tell me that? then how could you bring yourself to go? My mind is tired, trying too hard to understand. From my bed, I count on the rain, lit like mercury, beading on my window, ushering myself to sleep. But my neighbor's child kept me awake all night -- not with crying; just sleeping in his white crib, his small clen breahts, his perfect dreaming, a week-old emigrant from the city of Heaven.