for Peter Christopher, 1955 - 2007
I’m tired of your face appearing
In front of me smiling, your fullback’s body
In professor clothes – sport coat and chinos and
Worn satchel, always with you, black leather
As supple as your sentences.
I’m ready to tuck you away somewhere to bring out
When I want to, when I’m ready. Like a book.
But you keep popping up uninvited, unscheduled.
Every day. In a student’s mouth. In a feral cat
Outside my window. In the parking lot I circle.
Beside me in the car driving to the airport
To pick up visiting writers. I’m tired of them
Coming and going, coming and going
So rapidly I remember only their luggage.
I’m moving forward but it feels like swimming
Backstroke at night in a pool with no walls.
I hold up these words like garlic, like holy water,
Like a cross to keep you away.
Today it was 10:15 before you showed up. Late.
You were never late.
I was looking at my notes when I looked up
To see the time and you were behind the podium
Introducing the visiting writer,
Reading slowly, deliberately from your notes.
All that time, none of us knew you
Were the one visiting. One day the entire day
Will go by without you. Then another. Then
The visits will end, the work remain.
If you have any comments on this poem, Eric Nelson would be pleased to hear from you.