The 2River View 19.3 (Spring 2015)

Laurie MacDiarmid

The Clock of His Shoes

Late at night,
face pressed against
the virgin pillow,
he relives his wife's

cool smooth skin,
and, with a tiny pain,
realizes how those
we once loved

remain in the world
as echoes:
his father’s voice
in the blue jay

that taunts the fat tabby,
his dead child chattering
somewhere across the street,
and his sad-faced mother,

her measured stride in
the clock of his shoes
against the granite floor
of an empty museum—

the sound of her
sliding before him
into each room, as her body
once slid,

parting the air,
into church each Sunday,
solemn and swollen
with faith.

If My Father Came Back From the Dead

would he wear plaid shirts
short sleeved with pocket protectors
and jam in pens like crowded teeth

would he tape the corners of his
thick black glasses and get fat around
the waist

would he drink in front of the boob tube
while mom makes dinner, holding forth
about asinine students—is it just me

or do they come out of the womb stupid?

if he came back from the dead would he
smile at me lopsided let me smell
the scratchy wool at his neck

would he run his big hands over
my yearning back til i'm warm all
the way through

or would he make me track him down
to the freezing river and then
dive in

would he swim out into the unbearable
winter dark
and shout: if you want me so bad

come get me

Laurie MacDiarmid is Professor of English and Writer in Residence at St. Norbert College, in De Pere, Wisconsin.

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