WHEN NOTHING STAYS THE SAME

                                                  Nothing is nothing.
                                                  Nothing is not nothing.
                                                  Nothing is next to nothing.

                                                                 – James Galvin (“Woman Walking a One-Kick Dog
                                                                                Along An Asymptotic Curve”)

 

I

I want to be among oak trees
and big rocks that the natives held
sacred—solid and dense things

that neither charge nor change
much in tumultuous times—
good company for the spirit.

Quail have taken the garden,
moved-in for the moment, stroll
with impunity and giggle at

the cats. It hasn’t rained.
Only nothing stays the same,
but even that could change.

 

II

We walk the edge, hear voices
coming from no where, triggered
by circumstance, by details aligned

like stars in ever-expanding space,
black, we presume, as the ace of spades.
Yet, I hear my mother’s voice,

judgmental tone and see
through her buried eyelids
in a box above my father,

both looking up. How she hated
that perspective on her deathbed,
despite the new, light blue dress

for a closed casket—accepted
the inevitable like she always did,
like he trained her, begrudgingly.

 

III

We see Marilyn at the Country Club
at a table of survivors, widows or late
divorces, men gone on without them,

in a doctor’s soft collar she endures,
not interfering with her endearing
sarcasm. “I’ve been thinking a lot,” she

whispers, “about Margaret lately.”
“We have too,” I reply, two weeks
before Thanksgiving and the predictable

storm of alcohol during the holidays,
getting-even with my father, and the rest
of us, for all our expectations.

 

IV

I’ll be wearing khaki slacks, first pants
bought not blue denim for twenty years,
since my father’s funeral, worn now

only twice. She takes her time
critiquing the black Tommy Bahama top,
my leather Crocs to walk a tropic aisle

of plumeria petals swirling in a sea
breeze to give away my daughter
to a handsome, curly-headed Czech.

She is resigned to changing times, as she
shrugs-off her mother’s shrill judgment—
knowing in the end it was close

to nothing, that the only difference
it made was when she was alive,
always hearing voices from the void.

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