The way the dog looks
when she can’t find you.

The way branches sag
in summer’s drought.

How the song’s last lingering note
begs for silence.

The wooded scent detached
forever from the almond.

Searching out the dead
nightly in my dreams,

I am in the business of loss,
well practiced from birth,

my job, vocation, hobby, fad—
posting losses.

*

Remember how I cried
when my mother

left me at nursery school?
Remember how heart-

broken I was?
I knew then

one day she would
leave me for good

that loss was an occupation
I could handle

with humble acumen.
Yes she was, I nod

at the many faces,
familiar and unfamiliar

offering condolences
between bites of egg

salad sandwiches,
my face expressionless

as the crumpled white
napkins in their hands.

*

Who are you?
I don’t know.

Who are you?
I don’t know.

The question is
are you comfortable

not knowing?
Do you lose yourself

when you lose
those you love

or do you find yourself
becoming more yourself?

It is hard to admit
that the less I have

the more I am,
that loss, like memory,

accumulates,
calcifies within me.

*

The bullet is a lonely thing.
Like rope and knife,

it has no meaning without
its other. It is a question

waiting to be answered.
I am a bullet shot

and soaring, moving
farther from my mother,

like matter fanning out
from the Big Bang,

velocity increasing,
so much behind, so much

ahead, metallic gleaming,
rotating clockwise

the better to embed
deep into the awaiting target.

*

Stopwatch with little pink cows
at each point of the cross,

two wrist watches, gold bracelets,
some earrings, a gold ring

with three diamonds
my grandfather wore,

a pearl necklace, the key
to her apartment chained

to a fat brass boot, fistfuls
of costume jewelry, and

the smell of her
clinging to all of it.

*

What is a man without a mother?
The creams and perfumes

mix with the scent of engine oil.
My eyes = two small stones.

When I kneel at her tomb
they drop to the ground.

*

The dog asleep,
alone in its aloneness

dreaming
of the dog asleep.