[ToC]

 

WHEN ELLEN IS GONE

Weston Cutter

I forget I will die and the wind is whatever
                                    I hear no matter
what I listen for, the windows stay shut even
if I open them, in the truck as I drive
the dog to the hills at town's edge I can't say
                        my own name: my love's

the same silver as anyone's and what I feel
                                    will gather dust just
like a family candlestick or barn's window-
sill, the yards we pass are coming green
slow, April again, tulips delicately pushing
                        through, teaching the latest

conjugation of emerge: when Ellen is gone
                                    I'm all empty
shirt, a wineless glass held long past the last
sip. In the truck's bed the dog sticks his snout
out to read the newspaper air + supposedly
                        there once stood a rough-

hewn chapel among the hill's rolls. Imagine
                                    the congregants,
knees on slivery wood, unelectric light if at
all. To stand in a doorway + look out over
the flat of one's life, who knows what they saw.
                        In the hills the dog catches

scent, takes off, and I wonder what bone or
                                    Rosary's trace he'll
run til he's found the source of. Such is love,
or what I've come to understand of de-
votion: when I whistle toward where the dog
                        disappeared the sound's

a smear, all gray, hints of perhaps blue +
                                    what follows is
the sound of wind about to blow again.
The tree's bare branches, the sky a mumbled
answer about distance: when Ellen is gone
                        I learn my life's truer prayer.

 

 

 

 


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Ellen travels for work, but I can't remember if I wrote this when she was here or gone. We've been stuck in rural Iowa for a year and travel from here's an insufferable bitch and this spring Ellen did more traveling than anyone'd wish on anybody else, loved one or foe. The poem's pretty explanatory though I will say that seeing the dog daily able to be all excited and chase-happy, regardless of where Ellen was, never evoked a consistent response: sometimes I'd think he's got the right idea and sometimes think idiot wouldn't be running if he knew Ellen won't be home tonight.