Dear keyhole I squint through to see that other life—Matthew Thorburn, “Dear Almost”
It’s been a while since I spoke to you, so
long ago the traces in this room we almost
brought you to are gone. This moon’s
the same reluctant shadow-maker
and the folk-art dresser drawers are stuffed
with hand-me-downs that might have held
a whiff of you still. They don’t, of course—I have
to shut my eyes and count to ten to find you
in the ultrasound technician’s voice, that tone
airline pilots use to let you know this minor
turbulence won’t last past thirty thousand feet.
No magic in her plastic wand. No picture worth
your million missing words. Just the bright-lit
screen of you. The jellied pumpkin
belly of you. The exam table paper of you, its
as your mom slid back into her mundane
shoes. Later, in a room that could have been
its sterile twin, I looked down from orbit above
a doctor’s pale-blue scrubs onto the great red lake
of you, as his astronaut’s cadence coolly
explained the next procedure. Roger, Houston.
Then the far side swallowed you. The lights
switched off, the room grew cold, every machine
was unplugged, the onion-skin paper lay smooth.
The onesies and stacks of pastel tees that silt
the mouths of these tulip’d drawers were all your
nearly-sister’s. Maybe you knew she’d be a golden
child, younger yet compelled to always wait up.
Maybe you knew my father wrote The Big Book
of How-Not-To, and your stillness was a gesture
at how much I had to learn. And still do. As if you heard
my voice from some far distant altitude and sensed
I’m the man in the moon, rowing my skiff
across a solitary sea, and the skiff is
love, and it only had room enough for one of you.
Ed Granger lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he works for a healthcare non-profit in a Quixotic attempt to pay for his teenage daughter’s horseback riding lessons. His chapbook Voices from the First Gilded Age was published in 2019 by Finishing Line Press. His poems have also appeared or are forthcoming in THINK Journal, Philadelphia Stories, Loch Raven Review, Delmarva Review, River Heron Review, and other journals.