The topography of edith
I keep watch of the airports, Edith.
I gather their dust like I gather days,
days when graves were the holes we
put things into like a vase & a ground
we danced until made holy, until made
into what we could justify our visiting often.
It started with a bottle rocket in Kasey’s car,
Fourth of July, knowing I was leaving town
& the others weren’t. We didn’t take our friends
to the hospital, because you didn’t
in those days. There are entire days I’ve
wished, even prayed, my plane would never land.
My friends don’t take me to the hospital
because you don’t these days either. They
named me like a scar moaning or the black
lung or cleft lip or the taco tongue people
over time learn to love you for. Some of us
were born this way, in that moan, others
from it. How far we’ve come. I try to smile
a smile at the mural in the Pittsburgh Airport
of America & olympic hockey & hope
we learn to love again, better, in thirty years.
In airports there’s so much hope we will not end
in the place we came from: young & drunk,
waiting on the rain in Houston to pass, me
looking for you in your derby hat, in the
white line of airport rocking chairs where
you aren’t waiting on me to touch your shoulder
anymore. Now I wait on the ghost of you to
mouth it’s time again for us to leave these bodies here
in the dialect of ghost we made together,
where no one else understands, but us.
I’m sure now that dying doesn't solve much.
I’m sure the thing laying dormant inside
the body, that’s been waiting to be called upon
by a stranger’s hands, who are mother and father
promised us would come one day, will move, will get up
and dance away from us when it’s ready to dance
and with so much dancing about we will miss
that flash of snowy white they used our whole lives
to scare us into doing what they wanted us to do.
But I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before.
Keegan Lester is a writer whose work has been published in The Adroit Journal, BOAAT, The Boston Review, Shallow Ends, Poem A Day and The Journal among others. His first collection of poetry was selected by Mary Ruefle for the 2016 Slope Editions Book Prize. His work has been featured or spoken of at The Rumpus, The Kenyon Review, Rolling Stone Magazine and is being anthologized in Bettering American Poetry.