Wet sheets meant he slept inside a tub
in the bathroom by our bedroom.
I�d listen as our father cut the light,
left him staring at the objects
reemerging, molded out of midnight�s
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, I�ll 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
I�m sorry to a room that doesn�t care.
Drain at my ear, I know who�s below,
quiet as crying that won�t 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 I�ve become, pours out
a little of what the years poured in.
I push myself up, go to play bass
but can�t plug it in so late, can�t let it
pound against the walls. Pound them,
Marshall. I�ve tried to talk to you.
Your face is a door with no handle.
It isn�t right how you died
in those rooms, how some things
nail up boards around us and we
don�t even recognize they�re there.