from Leafmold: Dear Amanda

Dear Amanda: this is the three-hundredth time I have sat at
the kitchen table with a plate of smoked fish and bread, my
movements watched by dogs, and watched for your return.
By watching my movements the dogs also watch for you.
The pine is the green of a summer morning before a decent
storm, some Russell Chatham clouds backdropping the
bony maples and oaks of March. This is the four-hundredth
time you have piloted your old white Volvo home, the
former owner a woman in Fort Meyers, Florida, who drove
it to the store and back once a week, and two or three times
a season to the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. This is the
fifth-hundredth time we have sat down to dinner, wanting
to erase most of the day. We say what we say but we think
what we think. Language is our curse miraculous. Locate
the pain—take the breath there. I rest my open palm on
your sternum before your sleep. I go downstairs for the six-
hundredth time and reenter the old trance. Townes Van
Zandt, deliver us. The dissection takes longer with a dull
blade. The years peel back like rind. The stars linger and
our spring birds, for the countless time, sing.