A List of Things that Weren’t There

Fog. An emblazoned sky, a constellation.
The memory of your son, age 8, standing
atop a hay bale at the pumpkin patch.
A trail that wound down
to a different view of the valley, one
that bypassed the baby deer skeleton
and the broken water fountain.
Christmas songs on the radio, any book
that wasn’t the Bible, spiked punch.
The hope afforded by a new year, rung in
with streamers. The knowledge
that there was something better to come.
A seat on the upper bleachers
at his baseball game, graffiti carved
into the cheap metal, denim-cut-offs-wearing moms
shouting run and hit the ball! A reason
to throw hot dogs on the grill, shuck corn
in its sweet prime, tap a keg of craft beer.
A deluge, an earthquake. The premonition that
something was about to happen, some cosmic
change that would disrupt the way
your blood flows. A lemon tree. An apricot tree.
Any kind of tree with leaves
that weren’t dying. Your ability to
take it all in stride. The camping trip
you promised the kids. Smoke signals.
The entire month of August.

Claire Kiefer is a writer and educator living in the Bay Area. She received her MFA in Poetry from San Francisco State University in 2007 and works in the education program of a nonprofit oral history book series.

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