Last Conversations

           One conversation, one only, remaining:
It will be that give-and-take
With Larry Littlebird — 
Oral listener — 
All about eagles, their shoulders,
Ospreys, their plummet,
And frogs, their singing
Scratched by rain’s soft claws.

           But any of these exchanges will do:
Charlie saying, If you can hum
It you can play it, if you can play at all.
And if not, sing with closed lips to yourself.
Low continuous sound, your refrigerator.
You must not be lonely.
Harold says someone pointed out
Being begins with a hum:
It seems what you are,
You’re happy hearing it, I’m happy for you,
For each other, happy.
Hear it in your colloquial throat,
The syllable meaning human.

           Or, if not any of these intercourses, then
Jenny and Chloe, who with a shake
And a nod and a wave of an arm
Toward the East say, We are going
And we’ll go on your behalf
And we’ll carry signs and shout
The last best protest. Cerise and fuchsia
Sisters, ears pointing out.

           Or my street signs:
Calaveras (our skull’s tacit mouth) and Eisenhower — 
War, a theft from those who hunger
And are not fed. Not a way of life at all.
Crossed words on a corner pole.
Movers pack me up, extract me
From that conversation.

           I’ve heard a few words — they stay with me,
An earned ear — and yet
Too brief for brooding. Ghost
Of my father, who never said much
But Smell the roses for the camera;
Or when I ask, Can I retire?
He quickly says, Don’t hesitate!
Any of these exchanges will do,
“Now is the perfect time.”
Not “For what?” but stopping it open.
“April Fool,” said my favorite Eleanor,
And then she died. “Good night,” her son
Tipped his hat at me,
From the top of the stairs, and then he tumbled.
“I love you,” I contributed.
And then I buttoned up.

More Poems by Sandra McPherson