Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Love's Austere and Lonely Office

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Love's Austere and Lonely Office

Article excerpt

After Hayden & Hayes

Passage in the sable four-door sedan on Sundays

each week dried our tank to dust. Measured, too,

the responsibility, this care of the vanishing. My

grandmother's short steps and breath, my father

ripened to solitude until asked to clear the spigot

of our family. Browbeat over the roots he was up

all night working to drive an ax through. O, early

sun we sputter the forty-one miles under. And

I, astounded at the directory; catalog of alarms put

between the dying and me. She greets us: clothes

unwashed for weeks, piquant perfume nested on

her collarbone, broth frozen and overgrown in

an icy burn since her husband died there last. The

couch, untouched. Each coalesced thread, blueblack

and frayed. She longingly wears into the cold

clarity that those near may die or disintegrate, then

leave her to die alone too. I am a quiet boy with

little idea how the skin can slowly ebb, cracked

and tired, embalming her delicate body. …

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