another of the stages of grief
—in memoriam Jacqueline Cooley, 1944-2018
When we talk to the dead, they answer or not.
They have that choice. But we don’t choose, do we?
Yesterday within the arena of my crying,
I heard your voice, Jacki, gone two months,
but you said—what? I couldn’t grasp it.
But then there is the other side, the dead
talking to us through the mire of our unending tasks,
the high wire of the checkbook, circumference of a scrubbed pot
or folding laundry, tangled in unmatched socks,
I catch your voice and now you touch me here
across my right hand, this second, the next.
And as I write this, you’re already gone.
You refuse to leave. I’d never ask you to.
Peter Cooley’s eleventh book of poetry The One Certain Thing, which includes this poem, will appear from Carnegie Mellon in 2021. He is Professor Emeritus from Tulane University, where he was Director of Creative Writing 1975-2018. He was Louisiana Poet Laureate 2015-2017.