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the new year

Last night I was

lying on my stomach

with my head cradled in my hands

listening to a Louis Prima album,

when I looked up and saw my mother

standing in the doorway

so thin and white she could have been

a banner of vapor lifting past a street lamp.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Was the music too loud?”

“Oh no, honey, “ she said,

her voice as calm as melted wax.

“I just can’t stay here anymore.”

And when she hugged me I knew she was dead.

I smelled her hand lotion fading

and the delicate bones up and down her back

crumbled under my hands.

Then we dissolved into a column of steam

and rose into the air, both of us, faithless and serene

leaving not a trace of anything behind

except a slight fog on the windows

which was already clearing

as the stylus scratched at the end of the record

going around, and around, and around.

John Straley first came to the Methow in 1963 for a family pack trip with Jack Wilson and three years later went to work for him. When Wilson sold out to Claude Miller, John was thrown into the deal and he packed for Claude through 1975. After a summer working for the Courtney family in Stehekin, he then moved to Sitka, Alaska where his horse career ended and his writing career began. John has seven published novels along with the book of poetry this poem came from, titled ‘The Rising and the Rain’ from the University of Alaska Press.

08/12/2013 see more wordspot in the archive >>
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