To Signal Earth

October 29, 2010

The night he died he sat on the bed amid
my drum museum and thought about that time
at Christmas, how we hiked up Vincent’s Peak
to Leo Hightower’s log cabin with a box
of cornflakes and pancake batter all ready-made,
but with no knives or forks to eat them with.

He thought about that patch of pumpkins we
found frozen in the snow up there, a whole field full
of hued orange snow, once bright, now half eaten
by skunks and ‘coons. Eau’ de parfum de melon.
Memory, Gramps, your new pied-á-terre. He smiled and
took out his teeth. He tapped my tin drum one
last time—my mother heard—to signal earth,
her mist, his wish, their presence, ours.
He died amid what pumpkins’ say when cut
apart, for it was Halloween that night, and all the timpani…
well, the timpani try to talk come Halloween,
you know , just as the pumpkins try to die.

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