In the end you have to go home.
You have to leave the hospital room
where you stand bedside, though
there’s no bed anymore, which
an hour ago was hers. In the end
nothing belonging to no body,
hers no longer hers, you must head
down the ramp, through the sliding
glass doors and cheap fluorescence
of a gray garage, and find the car
she parked somewhere weeks ago.
Which level? Which space?
You ask someone in scrubs for help,
and she can see you are not right
and gentle with your notrightness.
You are saying nothing new.
You are a son; your mother has died.
All you need to do is find the car.
But you can’t even, and break again–
It will be this way awhile:
Driving down the turnpike, tired of
feeling rented, chemo urine talc
stubborn in the leather, you tell yourself
your body needs to be yours again–
Then relief, guilt, a profusion
filling the car. But all that’s fiction,
a person you have yet to become.
Right now, grief is simple: Find the car,
let the engine run some, take care
not to damage anything on the way out.
James Hoch’s poems have appeared in The New Republic, Washington Post, Slate, Chronicle Review of Higher Education, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review and many other magazines. His first book, A Parade of Hands, won the Gerald Cable Award and was published in March 2003 by Silverfish Review Press. His most recent book is Miscreants (WW Norton, 2007). He has received fellowships from the NEA, Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers conferences, St Albans School for Boys, Summer Literary Seminars. Currently, he is Professor of Creative Writing at Ramapo College of NJ and Guest Faculty at Sarah Lawrence.
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