the goldfinches are back, or others like them --Elizabeth Bishop
I get it now, how
they could bear to see
this picture hanging over the fireplace.
Instead of enshrining him in photos
or preserving his room,
with the money from his last paycheck,
they bought this.
Because you can't erase a son.
So you put him back in a place he loved,
in a boat. Today it is grey and still,
and the palmettos hover high overhead,
fronds alive, the water alive.
There's no difference, really, between the boy
and the water, the sky, the shore, the trees.
There's no difference because there's no living boy
to haul the boat up onto land held together by mangrove roots,
covered with old Spanish moss and dried palmetto fronds.
There's no living boy to come in asking what's for dinner,
to empty his pockets of the day's shells, dried urchins, crab claws.
In the place he loved best he's a creature like any other,
where things are growing and dying all the time
but also unchanging--today's water is the same
as yesterday's water. Even when it's different, it's the same.
Ann Quinn’s poetry was selected by Stanley Plumly as first place winner in the 2015 Bethesda Literary Arts Festival poetry contest, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work is published in Potomac Review, Little Patuxent Review, Beechwood Review, Haibun Today, and Snapdragon, and is included in the anthology Red Sky: Poetry on the Global Epidemic of Violence Against Women. Ann lives in Maryland with her family where she teaches music and plays clarinet with the Columbia Orchestra. Her degrees are in music performance; she fell in love with poetry in mid-life. Her chapbook, “Final Deployment,” is published by Finishing Line Press. Please visit online at www.annquinn.net.