Kelle Groom

Late As It Is

When eleven days were removed from September, 1752,
the English cried, Give us back the days you have robbed.

Scientists said in the last fifty years, one second has been lost,
an unspent second saved like the birth of Christ in the ring of a sequoia.

I saved your Mother’s Ring, a stone for every child —
sapphire, ruby, amethyst, aquamarine — your nightgowns saved

from charity, sailed like wedding dresses over my head, like sleep
when I wore them, my wrists aching with something sharp and intravenous.

You saved a handmade wish I’d sent 30 years ago — Hurry opin this card…
(My orange clock read 10 o’clock, inside another read 11),

I’m as late as it is, but Happy Berthday in magic marker green,
a green hand Vulcan salute.

Late before I could even spell, you died while I was in the air
or asking after lost bags, or waiting on them, clothes.

Three days to choose a coffin to burn, urn to bury, obituary.
Time in the difference between before and after,

the day come and everyone gone.
When I put my head on your chest, you sighed —

my kiss left a mark, a red blur
like your mark on me.

One night before supper, you took me to the marsh,
said, This is my favorite place.

In the summer dark, I hit a ball down the long dirt road,
an incandescent second — ran tree, tree, T-shirt, home.

Later, we forgot the popcorn popper top,
as the kernels heat, they bombard us —

you’re laughing so hard, you’re crying,
popcorn raining down on us, the counters, chairs, linoleum,

corners, kitchen sink,
we’re helpless in each other’s arms,

there is no way to stop it.