In Memory of Scott Simpkins
What name do you give the cat
who strangely no friend knew by name,
who paced your small house gone
dark for days until they found you?
It must be out there somewhere,
the name that is a piece of you
and yet not you, the way a thought
is never the mind that thinks it.
And so I hunt among the dead
philosophers, my thick hardbacks,
and find a flaw, a set of black
jackets with a gap in the middle.
That too is thick, the missing book
I loaned you, and as your cat
looks up, bewildered, nameless still,
I see in him the absent pages.
A book about the art of healing,
how those who would be whole tear
through some necessary wound,
cut from the mess, and so related.
Sam, I thought. I will name him
after the author of Kubla Kahn,
with its pleasure dome, sad lute,
eyes blurred with opium and pollen.
It is a place you understand,
too well, I fear, the cold fountain
as it sizzles in its spoon.
Truth is, I hate the pretense of pets
with literary credentials, and yet
what is better than the story
of this poem, the knock on the door
that broke the writer’s delirium,
that cut his vision short, to say,
there is a world here, remember,
a dawn that is the tomb of sleep.
Not long ago you and I met
over coffee, our morning meal,
unaware we were leveling
the ground between us for a name
to lie over the one we’d lose.
Sam noses under the book
I am reading and so lay down.
We are many people, you said,
therefore, I imagine, many graves.