Poetry 2014 / Volume 45

Say Uncle — Phillip Sterling

You wake abruptly and the first thing
that comes to mind is avuncular,
a word you’re not familiar with, or
you thought you weren’t familiar with,
and you think: What the hell? It’s 3:14
a.m., according to the radio alarm.
You’ll look it up tomorrow.

But you forget: the word, the dream
that might have spurred it, the horse
you didn’t ride, the uncle who passed on
before you ever got to know him.
(Don’t your nephew’s nephews now
have children of their own? How likely
you’ll ever chance to meet them?)

Later, on your walk, you remember
not the word, but that you can’t recall it.
You’re passing where the builder’s stalled,
his horse van rigged for tools parked in
the drive, and you realize you’re soaked
right to the skin. How far you’ve come!
And look! The clouds retreat, rein in.

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