(For Aaron R Williams)
Places I’ve been would melt you;
the barrenness of iced-over marshes,
the grassy dropping cliffs of Moher
where our mother buried that lock
of your soft blonde hair
and piled smooth rocks atop the shallow grave.
Where our sister cut a lock of her own
and let the wind carry it over the edge
toward the fog-swept Aran island.
People I’ve loved would melt you.
You might have shook their hands roughly,
let them feel the scar on your knuckle.
You’ve been gone now much too long,
we’ve searched strange landscapes for blue,
rare but for sadness and your eyes.
Why must every drop be saved for the sea?
Voices I’ve heard would melt you
into a strange raw fear of
phrases like butter that warm on your lips,
but you cannot speak another word cannot
break the filmy membrane
between the living and the dead.
Had your voice been carried over Irish farms
and rung in the caves of the south sea,
had they sung into our mother’s wind-chilled hands;
instead we had only your name,
whispered over the cliff edge to drift on the waves
until at last it sank with a grief so deep and dark
it put the sea to shame.