Or were you poems? Or witches? Or gods?
The first poet I drove filled her rhythms and meters
with her parents' deaths, and my dad died
that night. She said dead bodies live in the oak
and ivy, and I mean, I can't blame her.
Can I? Can I blame her?
Maybe they were prophets,
their words not incantations but messages.
I picked them up at hotels, airports,
alumni houses, like complimentary
shampoos. I was their ferryman.
And it's too obvious to say that we
are all travelers, that each time we slam
the car door, its shimmer and widgets
are polished and waxed
into the vehicle of history,
but I carried a poet who wrote of families
deserting their farms, burning barns,
and taking only the nails with them
to start again. I went home that day
to find my house robbed—empty,
the covers of my bed used to carry the loot.
Another poet, who wrote of Demeter's agony
in losing her child, consoled
me on my infertility as we drove
from Columbus in the rain.
Did we go by first names in those minutes
we shared?—I called you Margaret, Robert,
Cleopatra; you called me Kelly or cabbie
or first mate?
Or maybe I just called you
poem, Poem, and when you asked what
to tip the boatman, I told you this, only this.