The 2River View 28.2 (Winter 2024)

Michael Lauchlan

Letter to My Grandfather

I know little–only that you
emerged in a mountain town
in a dying empire in the same year,
that a spasm in the mantle made
Krakatoa explode. You’d cross
Europe, dodge wars, endure steerage,
and disembark with a vague past,
a smile, and scars that left me
guessing about the gray world
you left behind. You were good
at being old. Together, we outfoxed
the hours in your quiet house
in a city about to burn. I’d bounce
down your steps toward baseball
on a patch of cinders while you’d greet
your cronies in the thick consonants
of the old languages. Your days
ticked through the epochs until
you stood among tomato plants
staring off, spent in a way
I couldn't imagine. So what
can you tell me about figures
bending in the heat across distant
fence lines? My imagination
has improved of late. What
can you say about our longing
to outlast the paroxysmal phase?

The Lights Dim Almost Imperceptibly

In fact, you don’t perceive anything
but find yourself recalling a moment
in a black and white film you can’t name
when someone touched a wire or a ghost
entered and tingled hair on your neck
in the dark of an eight year-old night.

A motor comes on, maybe the fridge, and draws
a little extra from a circuit. Sometimes it kills
the LED bulbs. Sometimes, when
you’re planting a bush, your heart
seems to strain. Or you stand too quickly–
orthostatic hypotension, they call it. Before,

you called it nothing, called it Tuesday
at work, but now. What was that
TV show that came on so late?
Rod Serling’s voice and always a face
twisting itself as someone finally saw
what you knew was coming all along.

Michael Lauchlan has contributed to many publications, including Louisville Review, New England Review, The North American Review, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. His most recent collection is Trumbull Avenue from WSU Press.
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