If you trace down my mother’s blood,
you will find a boughful of men and women
who never knew homes beyond where they were born
and I envy them, the casual acquaintance they share
with goodbye. They know the worst of the word,
syllables of grief poured into the casket
or the long forgetting of a grandparent
who cannot pin a name to your face.
But I have been wind, not earth,
and so tonight, when the tumblers sing
with percussion of ice cubes, slosh-drawl of rum,
I will make myself a phantom
and sleep through our goodbyes. This is not my nature,
but we tame nature daily, redirecting the river
when we cannot risk a flood.
I do not like the meander of these endings,
ashes unfurled into the night. Someone leaves
first, someone else second. There is no mystery
to entropy: a closed system moves towards annihilation. Here, I stare out
into neon contours of a city I do not know, and say our names
into my window like a child’s Bloody Mary. Sing with me,
O muses, of the time we were together, the time we were together—
when “we” meant all and each of us,
and no one else at all.
Elliott Freeman is a writer, educator, and professor in the hinterlands of Virginia; by day, he helps future nurses understand the beauty of the em dash, and by night, he writes for a local nonprofit. His work has previously appeared in Prick of the Spindle, Blue Monday Review, Rust + Moth, and other fine periodicals. You can follow his gentle descent into madness and poetry at www.elliottmfreeman.com.