Andres tells us
I am an alone man. Daily, he comes
in his jacket the color of dust.
He rejects my offering—
the verb “to live” alone without a noun
or “lonely” as an adjective for “man”
and I can’t tell if it’s because
he’s being stubborn or precise.
His voice, too, seems to have been long
without company and pours now
its wild assertions at our table
as he crosses his arms,
sticking out his three-quarter-century-old
tongue while waving his fingers at us
like a child, shouting Nah! Nah!
He came back into my mind today
when I saw a man eat an Egg McMuffin
at a window without looking out.
How his solitude was like a stone
dropped in a deep pocket.
How he was so present, then so gone.
How we used to shift in our seats
beside this alone man from Venezuela,
in his jacket the color of crunched gravel.
The Mind’s Mansion
Nothing which we have once mentally possessed can be entirely lost.
–Dr. Friedrich Scholz
But can be misrendered—as in the question a woman in a nursing
home asked me, astonished, “You mean you don’t know Brother Thomas?”
as though my being in her room meant I was in her mind, too, both of us kneeling
in the dirt between the stones.
Along her way, only certain things she knew became what was true.
Or can be irretrievable—like the correct answer on a high school science test, when
only one bubble could be filled, and I was timid and Mr. Shepherd wrote
BE RUTHLESS on the tops of my tests.
As though knowledge were a pin hidden in a garment, whose seam had to
be ripped open, all the layers sorted through to get to it.
Last week my ninety-two-year-old grandmother sang me “Happy Birthday” four times,
asking where I lived and where I lived and where I lived.
But still, she sang, she asked, she remembered who I was
—not entirely lost—
and the days when we were only a year old and bubbling over, limbs bursting
out of the arms of the ones holding us—are those somewhere
in our possession?
In our minds’ apartments, beside remembrance of a time when words began
to come in simple phrases, that pleasant wonder as we guided a grown up
down the halls of a museum exclaiming of the whale, the butterfly, the tepee
—“I see that!”— that and that and that then mist