Doing Nothing

by Eric Elliott


- to Dorothy Pack (1933 - 2003)


What you took with you
seventy-two inches into
the worm drilled ground
fills my nights with memories –
the vibrating world keeping time
with the convulsions.
What you took with you was the chance to
restrain these recollections.
The letters refusing to separate on the page.



My fingers gloved my mother’s –
inching my skin closer to
your faint hallo –
as she put into words what you’d left in her.

The yellow stare of
your eyes in her bedroom –
parking lights unsettling the dark
sovereignty of an
alley-full of your husband’s sins.

The rusted dark
squeak of her springs.



How, fumbling through
the cold dark of your daughter’s development
you must have tried with
all your pointless steps to
distance yourself –
waiting for Heaven to
separate you into elements
scatter your cells into shadows –
from the man decomposing
beside you, from the things he
stirred in your daughter.
No one could see but you.



I take my shoes off
stand in cut earth.
My toes cool in
October’s dirt.
I stare down into
clumps so you know –
as a child knows fear in
a creaking midnight door –
beneath me, in your lidded bed
someone has
come and stood over you.


Next: "Carry the Family Name:
How to Exorcise Your Past"