Before we put the ornaments in the attic,
I found the book you planted in a cardboard box
among the wide brocade ribbons you always wrapped my gifts in.
A book I'd never seen and didn't know you’d read.
It fell open to a photo that I tried, but could not remember.
It might be a train flying past a platform of broken children,
and we’re left wondering whether to go look for another, or just wait,
and listen to the girl in torn jeans playing
Ring them Bells and calling us by our own names.
So we stay and listen, and wait for the trains.
While the girl sings the chorus, I imagine Katlynn
searching an honest book store, probably in Oxford,
and knowing that you are the one for whom he wrote,
Then driving straight home and wrapping it in paper,
Sending it to Virginia that same day in November.
I turn to the pages she had dog-eared, with titles like,
The Tree that Decided not to Die, and
The Moths Arrive in Black and White, and
The Story Can Neither be Created, Nor Destroyed.
(I love her because she knew you this well.)
But she didn’t mark this one.
No, she left it for me to find,
all alone with only you (and all the others
on the platform, waiting for the trains
that also do not stop.)
The Last Thing You Said
As you lay dying, we asked if there was anything else you wanted us
to include in the book before we sent it back to you.
“Love at every opportunity you are given to love. Be less afraid.
Embrace each day (none are promised). Cry when you need to, it’ll
make you feel better. You were put on this planet to feel every feeling
you could, do that. Everything works out in the end.
So I tuck the book into my bag and fold the box of ribbons closed.
Climb the ladder to the attic with ornaments and electric candles.
Then, together, you and I make our way to the escalator,
and all the broken boys and girls follow, playing tag in the streets,
feeling every feeling they could, doing that.
You know who you are,
*From: “I Wrote this for You”
by Iian S. Thomas