White Noise -for A.B.
Before I knew the ringing in my ears
was a permanent tattoo gifted by customer service,
I used to watch TV late into the night
while my Beloved slept, nicotine and deafness his lullaby.
I found you in a motel on the outskirts of Oswego,
waiting for exhaustion to override the hiss.
You were somewhere on the African continent,
or juggling falafel with a brother wizard in Morocco,
slurping noodles with the last elected President,
crouched on plastic stools made in China and
thanks to you I now know sold worldwide.
You might have been pacing the sides streets of Hell’s kitchen,
or admiring the mists veiling the peaks of the Himalayas
like a shy lover come to the marriage bed a virgin,
sunlight surrounding the rocks like grace.
Tony, because I always call you, ‘Tony,’ even tho
we will never meet, it was more than white noise that night.
It was the sound of your leather footsteps
opening doors to all the best places on Earth,
breaking bread and ice, watching you evolve from
snarky young cook fresh from rehab, seasoning
observations with bitter East Coast addictions,
to grey-haired wanderer whose questions grew to
outpace motorboats on the Amazon, wings of
pterodactyls transporting you to another mystery,
another taping, intelligence beginning to understand
that with each answer comes two new and equal dilemmas.
Accumulation, chemical freedom, the body’s whispered taunts and jibes—
at sixty-one, so much has passed.
Locks on the darkest doors, that final trip we dare not take
can make inner engines sputter, stall, lose all momentum.
We stumble in silence, ears, nose, tongue drawn out to gasp,
feet aloft, turned finally to home.