BY PETER COOLEY
In memory, Jacqueline Cooley, 1944-2018. Copyright is held by the author.
Among the few pieces of jewelry
I excavated from a single box
where your engagement pearls, the antique locket
I gifted you one Christmas and where you glued
a photo of our children with me opposite,
I found two keys I’d never seen.
I pulled them out, laid them across our bed,
over the mottled bedspread where the sky
at the East window came and went and came,
the rhythm blue, improvisational.
A jailor’s turnkey, silver, palm-sized.
The second corroded green and purple.
Dumbly, I tried both keys on the front door,
the back, even my car, the ancient desk
you bought me with its lock I’ve never locked.
I pulled on my jogging suit, the black and white
you gifted me, then said I was a panda,
a penguin, remember? The both of us,
doubled-up. Why did you die? I’ll never know, will I?
I ran, I ran to the river, my best friend,
the Mississippi taking its own course
below the levee, the end of our street.
Corroded, green, the obstreperous,
polluted, open-jawed stupor of the tides,
stupor of the purple skies reflected there,
readied themselves. They’ve taken in everything.
I thought about the two of us, Love, what I’ll never know.
Then hurled both sets of keys into the water.