Emily and Walt
I suppose we did not want for love.
They were considerate parents, if a bit aloof,
or more than a bit. He was a colossus
of enthusiasms, none of them us,
while she kissed our heads and mended socks
with a wistful, faraway look.
She might have been a little, well, daft.
And he—Allons, my little ones, he’d laugh,
then leave without us.
And those “friends” of his!
Anyway, he’s gone off to “discover
himself” in San Francisco, or wherever,
while she’s retired to the condo in Boca.
We worry, but she says she likes it in Florida;
she seems, almost, happy. I suppose they were
less caregivers than enablers,
they taught by example, reading for hours
in the drafty house and now the house is ours,
with its drawers full of junk and odd
lines of verse and stairs that ascend to god
knows where, belfries and gymnasia,
the chapel, the workshop, aviaries, atria—
we could never hope to fill it all.
Our voices are too small
for its silences, too thin to spawn and echo.
Sometimes, even now, when the night wind blows
into the chimney flue
I start from my bed, calling out—“Hello
Mom and Dad, is that you?”
by Campbell McGrath
from Nouns and Verbs
Harper Collins, 2019