Lauren Krouse

red-eye
 
I.
 
it’s so dark
on both sides
I can’t see my reflection
and anyway
I don’t want to.
 
there’s—
some calm, some—
satisfaction, no,
some peace and quiet,
 
finally,
 
in sitting
in an airplane
on the way to see
my dying grandmother.
 
II.
 
that’s the glory of a poem, right?  that you can lie
all you want.  but in poems and in
life, I always, immediately turn back,
to say,
 
I’m not on a plane.
I’m in my bedroom
in my bed
because I can’t afford it
(oh come on,
who can’t afford
 
goodbye?)
 
III.
 
a proper goodbye.
who wants a proper goodbye?
that’s how they put it.
 
our goodbye, at least,
what was maybe our goodbye,
consisted of a long hug
and saying we loved each other
which we don’t tend to do
in words.
 
I asked her about her travels
and listened to anything she wanted to tell me,
as she measured and spooned out slowly
 
what she didn’t want to forget
to send off before—
 
sunset, sundown
driving into it
 
on the way not home.
 
III.  
 
I stumbled into the corner—
couldn’t take it—
and then my father,
her son, middle child, like me,
stumbled from the other edge
of another room—
 
I crumpled into him.
I’ve never seen his face
 
so soft and childlike.  
 
IV.
 
I keep trying to wear
the Tiger’s Eye ring she bequeathed to me
 
(from Granddad in Air Force Lieutenant Colonel days
from Southeast Asia),
 
I keep trying to wear
the golden ring with a line of five small square diamonds,
the center one a ruby,
black in the darkness, (I can’t count how many generations-old),
 
but then I slide them off
 
and it feels like
 
I’m developing early-onset osteo-
arthritis in my hands.