Grade A: The Other Truth

Written in Albuquerque (Mesa SE), May 2002:  addressed to J—.  As to Beckett, I meant, in particular, the Beckett of Watt.  Published in my books The Closed Shrine and Wings of the Gray Moon, and in the journal Lummox.

The Other Truth


This agony in my lower back

is my trustiest memory of you.


It pounces on me about once a year,

stays maybe two-three days.


Wouldn’t you know it today was the one

I’d scheduled to put clean sheets on the futon,


and I can’t go immediately from standing to squatting

so plotted out a system of gradated platforms


and did the tucking part scooting

my infinitesimal ass along the floor;


it’d probably take Sam Beckett

to describe it in further detail.


Three years ago when I threw the back out

I’d been changing abode for a week,


heavy boxes up and down stairs,

and now was helping you move too.


I started to step up into your Sidekick

and wham, and you could see it,


how fortuitous and how immense,

and your face went to panic,


and I was looking toward you, and saw

not the least flash of concern for me


but all the other truth instantly opened:

your chore day might have to be interrupted,


somebody might actually see us together,

this man in your life was an old man.