Poets Walk: "cups to catch tears"
Location on Poets Walk Map: 67
Talking to Myself by David Kelly
Men who talk to themselves hope to talk to God one day
Stiff, aching like a boxer on his day off,
my father worked his slow and painful way to heaven,
fifty-two years with my mother snapping at his heels
like a discontented mastiff, from paint job to shingle
to new lawn. All that time he muttered, into his beads
or without them, groaning up the stairs or bending out
from the chair in the kitchen they locked him in
when the sons of the rich came with their smiles
then walked into the night, holding his daughter’s hand
to the cars of their fathers . . . cars he couldn’t drive.
And now, with a job I despise, with an old house
creaking like a nun’s shawl around my own shoulders,
I’ve stumbled more than once around my corners
and into the accidental path of a daughter’s smile.
“You were talking to yourself,” she’d say and I’d turn
back and trudge as slowly as I could to the room
I’d left, looking into these hands that lift at night
like large fat cups to catch tears or stare back
bland and naked as infants, uncalloused, useless,
empty of those beads I put into the ground with him
thirty years ago. And I walk, as slow as I can,
toward that door without a handle and no one behind it
waiting on the other side . . . see . . . I push against it now,
I enter and it closes fast behind me and the sound you hear
Is my voice trailing off to nothing as we disappear.
David Kelly, "Talking to Myself" from Talking to Myself (Brockport: State Street Press, 1994)/ Used by permission of the author.