photo: ralph murre
Four for Mario
by Karl Elder
Suddenly a poem seems dumb.
Maybe like you I’d rather perform:
I rehearsed a week to tell my son
of your death. I learned by heart
how not to speak, to trust my tongue.
He waited till I was done.
He stared at me across the room
as I cradled my younger one.
He loves you, he said.
The pictures didn’t turn out,
Though I can picture each frame:
Seth, your understudy, your “main
man” in your lap.
What a team of dreamers!
If only we had a script, you said,
there’d be money enough to keep him in Underoos
and us in booze
till hell froze over.
It’s been a bitter winter.
We play the planet Hoth.
Seth is Luke, I’m Vader.
Once through my mask
I heard hint of your voice,
and once, stung by a gust,
I spun, sensing your form, your shadow
near snow packed high by the plows,
iced all over, glistening
like a huge granite boulder.
A man enters the shadow of rock
and the shadows are one.
Black is our shadow on the moon,
the shadow of earth,
which is the shadow of rock.
Black, which is the color
of every man’s shadow.
Black am I there who here am white.
Black like my brother,
you, who called me Brother.
~ previously published in A Man in Pieces (Prickly Pear Press)