The Boston Review is publishing a poem a day for National Poetry Month in the USA. I couldn’t go past Missing Person by A H Jerriod Avant, a breathtaking piece that pulls you further in with each couplet.
In this article in Brooklyn Poets, you’ll find an interview with the poet and another equally moving poem about the poet’s father, called Unusual Tightrope.
Missing Person – A H Jerriod Avant
Last time home, I saw a pair of shoes tucked into a corner
and it looked as if they hadn’t been moved since he was here.
The dust on them sacred and still, when I’m home, my mind
labors, in the dust. It’s been 6 years but I say it hasn’t happened.
Though the day persists, he’s still tucked into a cloud tucked into
a tree in the back of a long black car and my throat won’t
let my heart through no matter how flat my epiglottis falls. All about
the day breaking is clean so why this horror? A nightmare in my
wake. A black silk-blend pressed smooth, upholstering silent
emotion, boldly not a dent on him. We dare name this night
with its sun out high, hanging by its hands where the room was
too small to be holding so much ache. Our worlds now captured
by a piece of forest carved tightly, hinges now let us in or shut us out
but they fail to shut him in. A tree uprooted. The one I fell from,
and I’m the only one to find him showing up in my day. Meetings,
business trips scattered him and I knew he’d be back but not
back so soon or in this form and the way I am nervous about it
all, if I am losing it and if he’s gone how is he here with me?
The dining room table, an altar where we open all bodies, either
give or take, how his form sits in cheer, naked torso and you
are to act as if his generous breasts aren’t private parts. I don’t
see how I see what I’m seeing. My eyes shaping a silhouette
of the man who raised me as the sun raises all of our sleepy
shadows. What gives when two realms refuse to budge
and won’t make that sway completely to either world? Imagination
is a long, worn, leather belt spread around my only hope; this
yearning for Pops to adjourn a meeting he’s not in, get home
to build dinner around venison; a staple holding us full. The dates
leading up, I never get wrong. Their quick succession still stings.
It seems I’m always in a reality I shouldn’t be in. Somehow
our home preserves certain fingerprints. I map them and become
bored with the maps of this world. I would abandon one realm
for another when I watch him swing into the driveway and catch
his breath from the day, before exiting the vehicle. I watch him
honk the horn before he’s honking it. Passes me a crisp fifty-
dollar bill because I’m there. Hands me baskets of new
pecans and muscadines we’ll use. I hear him telling me how
I’m trying to split the log against the grain and how that’ll
wear me out the same way lying will. The same way alchohol
will, my liver and not cleaning the yard will eat at the lawnmower’s
blades. I got a thing for fumbling through couplets. I hear him
asking have I talked to Momma and he knows I have and what
I’m about to say. How I’m knocking on the window of this other
realm, begging to sing my confusion until he understands me.
I’m eleven hundred and fifty-four miles from home, farther from
him and still, we continue this secret, of running into each other.