The Poetry Project

When I Was Ready To Look, It Was Gone

Clare McCormick

In the dream I’d finished driver’s ed, knew how to drift from one lane to the next, skimming over bad ice. The cat was in the backseat in a box lined with old towels—I remember it felt strange to have grown old enough to see the lifespan of a linen, beginning to end. I’d dried my hair with this burial shroud.

When we pulled into the parking lot the receptionist met us there to take our box and later she handed us a bag of sandy ash we spilled all over the floor mats. You swept him back up in the driveway, dusting him off your hands. You laughed until you shook at his last mess.

Michael found some stones he liked, made a ring of them in the yard. He blurred back and forth through the headlights, from the stack to his circle, the way a finger passes through a candle flame. This is the kind of thing that should hurt:

how hard the body felt, its transformation, the open mouth of the garage fitted around our car. I watched you helping Michael dig, dirt clapped to your jeans. Lord, I know it now—I thought—there is no future with all of us in it

Work from Smooth Ghosts with Jared Stanley