Making the most of the least I can do

for & from James Galvin


People were nice. I asked the priest

to wear my mother’s wedding dress during the sermon

about the difference between turning the other cheek

and looking the other way. The cowboy

wore it gelding bulls. The surgeon got it bloody

but the patient lived. The skydiver

jumped into the open arms of the air. Now a dress

worn once has been everywhere.

It’s easy to think I know what people will do

or say or wear, what the sun will look like

on Crete or who will love baseball

or who will want us to go to Mars,

just by looking at them. I asked the woman

who gets shot out of a cannon to wear the dress

while getting shot into a cannon,

took a picture to suggest a little bit

that angels are real. The snow

was the last person to wear the dress

before I sent it back to my mother

so she could smell all these lives

touching her life coming to an end. The snow

looked good in it. Good enough to carry

over the threshold, to melt quickly

in the slower melting of my arms.

The thing that lasts is noticing

everything that doesn’t.

Why we don’t get married every day

to the woman or man

or galloping shadow of a horse we love

is beyond me, much like a can

of tomato soup on the highest shelf,

only higher.


Bob Hicok’s ninth book, Hold, is just out from Copper Canyon Press.