Elegy at the Nursing Home for the Demented
for my grandmother
by Domenic Scopa
Let the condensation blind the window.
Let the bulb burn out.
Let the darkness believe
whatever it wants.
There is nothing, says the darkness,
I can do about it:
Where we go
is where we came from.
So let me spoon you, please.
Kiss the back of your shoulder.
Let come together
our brief shadows.
Let the starlings sing, like life,
until they tire.
Let me lie beside you—
“Fire is the thunderbolt that stirs all things”—Heraclitus
Out of habit you begin to sense the whisper
of fall leaves scraping streets: Burn the past,
and mysteries of loneliness will not concern you,
even as the family congregates for warmth,
and you might dream about the dryness
of the daughter’s down coat and wool socks.
Weigh the worth of bloody deeds impressed on newsprint
resurrecting into ash, their taste and smell,
the lives of lives you wipe out through the night.
I can’t count all the universes that disintegrate
when you lick the air—tongue-strikes quick as lightning—
but eventually your perseverance will be tested by the wind,
the wind that knows sometime you’ll come undone.
Snowflakes punctuate the darkness, punctuate
the run-on sentence of an early morning,
when sunrise insinuates itself on the horizon
like a Polaroid developing.
Somewhere, a driver slams the brakes,
skidding, who knows how far,
and workers, one with salt and sand,
the wind discovering their upturned faces,
continue shoveling the storefronts,
the moment snuffed like a match.
There’s so much noise—the neighbor’s beagle
has already started barking.
And we still wake up to each other,
perhaps a little button-pushy,
but with age, we get more playful.
Roll over, queen, and tell me
if you think this is a heart murmur.
Domenic Scopa is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His poetry and translations have been featured in The Adirondack Review, Reed Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Belleville Park Pages, and many others. He is currently a Lecturer at Plymouth State University and a Writing Center Specialist at New Hampshire Technical Institute. His first collection, The Apathy of Clouds (FutureCycle Press), is forthcoming in 2018. He currently reads manuscripts for Hunger Mountain and is an Associate Editor at Ink Brush Publications.