How Do You Call It When

How Do You Call It When

How Do You Call It When 1920 1106 Rodd Whelpley

nothing apparently is imminent,
but the extra weight; the hair
increasingly, if not the texture,
then the hue of the bristles
in the wire brush you used
to scrape the paint from the garage
you should replace
because it leans like a stem
naked in a westerly;
your hand that, after the day’s labor,
refuses to unclaw;
the flying chips landing,
freckling again your face
until the shower
makes them drop away?

I don’t want a great
recapitulation. Remember
when the boy was three?
A 10 p.m. apparition
in the family room,
his non-vibrato complaints
of how he never got the grapes
we promised after he, finally,
put away those crayons,
the nightly catalogue
of bedtime wrongs
that delighted us then.

I do not want that now.
What I want is to know
the names of things,
even if you and I
must make them up:
for socks that have lost their grip,
but are still my favorite;
for undiscovered syllables
resident in every utterance;
our imaginary ocean;
the noticing
how next morning
the sun rises with diminished vigor.

Maybe socks
are socks, the sun the sun,
the ocean full of kisses
given and intended.
It’s easy to get confused.
Words preserve us, but
they never save. Tomorrow
we will paint, whitewash
the next family’s teardown project,
miss some spots,
get lazy with the trim,
in the evening drink some wine,
and say: that is good enough.

Header photograph © Jason D. Ramsey.

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