Wet sheets meant he slept inside a tub
in the bathroom by our bedroom.
Iíd listen as our father cut the light,
left him staring at the objects
reemerging, molded out of midnightís
shame-filled clay, his eyes adjusting
until bottles of shampoo, conditioner,
stood up straight, loomed on the rim,
looked down like little judges.
I spread the quilt our mother made
into the tub I bathe in now, lie down
on this, pull it taut around me.
Tonight, Iíll know him better than I do
at Christmases, at bars in Charlotte,
from the little truths that flame
with drink, and my brother buys
drinks for all, all night long, as if to say
Iím sorry to a room that doesnít care.
Drain at my ear, I know whoís below,
quiet as crying that wonít come out,
but wagging his finger still,
although I have stood by his grave
believing death is an end.
This is hurting you, my wife says,
and the tone twists the cap from
what Iíve become, pours out
a little of what the years poured in.
I push myself up, go to play bass
but canít plug it in so late, canít let it
pound against the walls. Pound them,
Marshall. Iíve tried to talk to you.
Your face is a door with no handle.
It isnít right how you died
in those rooms, how some things
nail up boards around us and we
donít even recognize theyíre there.