Stephen Dunn


After grandmother's funeral, I rode home
in a black limo built to hide faces like mine,
and to schlep the famous to their galas
or high rollers to their ruin. Next day,

in my little Toyota, I headed north to price
the cost of forgetfulness at Saratoga,
and give myself permission to scream.
The nags I bet on that afternoon permitted

only mutterings, though in the last race
twenty-to-one Big Cat came from behind,
majestically lengthening its stride. "Oh no,"
I exclaimed, as it passed my horse by.

All day long early speed had given way
to what came late and hard. Wisdom
would have had me a Big Cat man,
but if I were wise I'd have been elsewhere.

I left, wearing my gambler's resigned-to-
failure smile, and beat traffic to the Northway,
the car reverberating with mindlessness
of my choice, music at full blast.

But at Half Moon in search of cheap gas
and something cold, I pulled in to a Stop
'N Shop, and found myself just sitting
behind the wheel, a sudden quiet in the air,

a quiet until then I hadn't known
I'd been staving off. It was as if a wind
after long carelessness had died down,
the only evidence of its existence

what it had swept away. No, it was quieter
than that, the hush of all I'd left unsaid
no more than an undertone. Grandmother, I run
to grieve. I remember everything I've lost.

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