Alexander Long

Ars Poetica #17

Look, my grandmothers would float out
Of themselves and into me nearly
Every day the weeks after they died.
I’d find myself pickling eggs,
Making a pot roast, polishing
Silver spoons and china, caring.
Once, I stole tomatoes right off
The Maltese’s vines. I wanted
Something fresh for once. I hate tomatoes,
And the Maltese’s are my neighbors,
Friends of the family, which must be why
They told me they saw the whole thing,
And laughed, and felt “a little sad.”
“My losses and all,” someone said.
Yes, my grandmothers floated out
Of themselves and into me, and in
The mirror one morning, I saw them
And felt me. They must’ve loved me,
I guess. Why else would they keep showing
Up as me, in me, to me?
Is where I feel my face changing,
My voice turning strangely fainter,
Trailing because…I don’t know why,
Why elegies bore me, why grandmothers
In poems bore me, great poems praising
The dead bore me. The dead put me
To sleep while they write, then read, this poem.
Why should I complain? I am happy
Now, which must be why all I want
To write from now on should begin
With the dead listening



"Ars Poetica #17" first appeared in The American Poetry Review.