Dan Bellm


(the last photograph of my father)

Though we are not through with him he is through with us --

he walks out of the picture at left, head down 
into bright sun, holding the ache in his side,

seizes the moment when we're facing
another direction to slip
away, as the old and weary sometimes do,
shivering to be warm, heading
south --

I suppose he will want to drive there, 
yes -- finds the dead car 
his dead father left him
out back behind the age-old mound 
of undiscardable scrap,

climbs into that plush-lined boat
with the automatic windows and doors
and it starts --

it's just where he wants to be,
nothing to do but watch
and his attention becomes the road ahead,
his thoughts
are light --

he crosses the river at Paducah
without waving back,							

he doesn't remember us.  He remembers
the salt ocean
and the way there is clear

though he becomes smaller the farther he goes

so the longer he is gone the distance is greater

and it will take him forever
and he has forever,

stopping now and then at roadside places
for the pleasure of talking
with the other dead.