Back to Issue Eighteen.

late elegy

BY RUTH FOLEY


for TTG

How to catalog the strangers who claimed
you, how to claim I am not one of them—that list
grows longer and you stay dead and I don’t know

how to hold you here. So let me say I remember
you at seventeen, telling a tanned boy you
were older. I remember your sanded arm,

his August fingers, you pretending you didn’t
care what he thought of you. The song you wrote
for him, your practiced irony. And I’m sorry,

I am every sorry excuse.  Everything I have for you
is only mine. That’s the truth of me, the not enough
which is all I can give you now and is no choice.

I make do, wear a pendant that used to warm
at your sternum but I never saw you wear.
In the picture it is your last birthday. Maybe you knew.

I am not very good at this, or at a lot of things.
A friend tells me you live in me and I want
to punch a window. I didn’t know I would have to

keep you in the world. You are finished with me.
I cannot begin. I am legless, wicked, the gratified snick
of the latch beyond my hand the instant I recall 

the key smug and useless inside on the dresser.
And what name would you choose for me?
I would ask, but then would have to speak it. 

 

 

Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including Antiphon, The Bellingham Review, Sou’wester, and previously in The Adroit Journal. She is the author of two chapbooks, Dear Turquoise (dancing girl press) and Creature Feature (ELJ Publications), and her first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in 2017. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review

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