Peter Cooley

Interrogations Update & Mythos
July 18, 2019 Cooley Peter


When will I see you again? I’ve asked the priests.
Father Jim says when I die, that exact instant.
Father Jonathan now, in these visitations,
when I see you cross the living room
in the scarlet nightgown I gave you last Christmas.
You’re here and somewhere else, he claims,
referring me to Wikipedia,
the garbled entry on quantum physics,
“A body in two places at the same time.”
Father Dave: at the end of time. Father Ted:
When we rise again, every one of us.
When is that? I ask. He shrugs. A mystery.


Why do I keep questioning when you’re here, now,
your presence in our shadowed room the sun,
appearing, re-appearing this very second?


Outside, thunderheads assemble our December.
The light in our bedroom comes and goes, spilling
golds on the familiars of our life together—
ancient bed, teak dressers we couldn’t afford
but bought anyway to stay the course. Half a century.
The rocking chair my grandmother embroidered
with moons and stars, where you’d lay out your clothes
for morning every night. I take that darkness-light,
I hold it with both hands. It’s everything,
Love, everything of you I get to keep.


You must begin to die into your life
the morning said, but since morning only speaks
like poetry in specificities,
it was the trees that spoke,
the trees along my street this morning run,
half of it ambling, their language demotic,
the roots spread out across the world.

Have you learned nothing from your wife’s death
eight months back? the live oak asked,
followed in chorus by the sweet olive and willow.
I don’t answer. I don’t need to.

While the enchantment lasts, the trees speaking
(it will play, as always, a few seconds),
I must begin again as the sun begins
to see these steps a dance I’ve never danced.
That’s how the eons turn, each step transformation,
the sun said, now the trees were silent.
Each tree new, each there a here, if we insist on it,
you and the light I ‘m sending you. Each alone, separate.

Peter Cooley is Professor Emeritus at Tulane University and was Louisiana Poet Laureate 2015-2017. His 11th book was THE ONE CERTAIN THING, elegies for his wife, who died in 2018.