I lay awake for ten years, wondering who was going to come for me.
—Francis Bok, escaped Sudanese slave
At the edge of Lake Michigan, moon rising—
I sit in a straight-back chair. My grandfather
approaches with his worn black doctor’s bag,
withdraws a little hard-rubber tomahawk,
and strikes the soft spot just below my knee.
A thrill of reflex as my lower leg
moves of its own accord. He grips my bare shoulder,
presses his stethoscope to me. I hear
my heart beat softly. My father,
in his Army uniform, looks away, aware
perhaps that he won’t know me. The surf
pounds and pounds. Now Grandpa’s bag
takes the form of a black gull and slowly
lifts above the moonlit breakers.
The bedside clock is right for once: it’s raining. Dark
& 52 degrees,
another month you look in a window & see someone
you thought you were but weren’t—
a life alone, a different bedroom:
wet blowing in
through a window you forgot to close. To get up
in the thick fug
you’d have to think about the furniture,
linoleum, smells of ancients, magnolias
dropping meaty petals in the street.
DAVID CORCORAN David Corcoran is the editor of Science Times, The New York Times’s weekly science section. His poetry has appeared in Fovea, Podium, and Barrow Street.