Your father is stuck in the past, an oxbow lake
left behind in the curve of time’s waste. Your grief
is anchored to his death, a line of memories unspooling
behind you as you drift forward in the river’s searching.

Like water tipped from a cup carried to bed, or the splash
on the bathroom tile from a too-full tub, it is hard to gather
your sadness without spilling more of it, a measure
of a body bound only by the negative space it brims.

Each day is a new attempt to survey grief’s coursing,
each food-triggered memory, each line of music heard
in his nobody’s-watching voice. And it’s impossible to tell
which life supplies your sorrow, his rigored past, or his future,

evaporated. You’re living every day in new depths,
each waking a plumb line fed into the dark body
surrounding you. But to see how deep the river really runs,
you will need to be something other than the river.

John Moessner is the author of Harmonia (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2023). He received his MFA from the University of Missouri–Kansas City. You can find his poems in New Letters, North American Review, and Poet Lore. www.johnmoessnerpoetry.com.

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Published in the July/August 2022 issue: View Contents
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