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———–For Bob

In this time of uncertainty
your father’s building
-—a small wooden boat
—–[fall to it]: its deck, its mast,
——its headband sail—all for our daughter’s
——-school project; his retired
——–machinist’s hands [at a distance, unseen]
———drill the holes,
———-shave the prow to a point,
———–chisel little windows [with gentle actions].

————All around, horizon trees reach
———–like prayer to a northless
———-universe [bestir, bestir],
———but he gives her vessel a map,
——–a helm, & holds her hand
——-as the class walks their boats
——to the stream behind
—–the swing sets & pushes them
—-asail [exit]. “God’s work,”
a frail-lipped woman
—–leaving nearby Mass
——murmurs as she passes,
——-& just then a firehouse siren

——-stings the air since all of this
——-[after which] is just a picture on the fridge:
——-he died two winters ago,
——-[heavily vanish] his lungs rotten, a machine
——breathing ghost into him
—-until you [soft music] said “enough”
& now our streets are breathless

empty [a strange, hollow, and confused noise],
all our Victorian
—–decadence buried in quarantine,
——the Easter-empty church [a cry from within]
——-working through billboard messages
——–of manna. Lost
———to prayers [with a frantic gesture], a pillared absence

———all around, we cut a branch
———-from the sleepy maple out back—
———–the world a new blue movie
————watching itself [in stolen apparel]. We chisel & saw,
————-drill & sew, the wind blows
————& the water rolls over stones,
———–& God says, “the church
———-is within you,” & we breathe
———every absence & blow the sail
——–in the direction of the sun.



Bill Neumire’s most recent book of poems, #TheNewCrusades (Unsolicited), was a finalist for the Barrow Street Prize.




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