Colin Pope: "Packing Up the House"



            to Jennie


And then there were the books to consider,


lined smartly on the shelves,

piled on chairs, counters, coffee table,

hiding under the couch, a forgotten few

huddled in the closet by the water heater.

The boxes waited, confusing time


with their open mouths. Your father

thumbed a copy of Tracking

and the Art of Seeing. Your mother,

workmanlike, stopped to riffle the pages

of The Hours. She held the book close


and jumped, making a small noise, then

ran to me and said “Look! Look at this!

Do you think this means anything?”

You had underlined a passage in blue,

and she turned the full spotlight

of her face toward me, hoping.

The incense of paper hung in the air


as I studied the words, so far beyond

the reach of your mind, at that time

two days gone from the firm housing

of its brain. It was ten at night


and you lay on a cold table across town,

a suicide waiting to be burned. I strained—

it took real effort—to find an expression

meant to look ponderous. “Yes,” I finally said,


then turned away to tape another box shut.


Colin Pope’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Slate, Best New Poets, Willow Springs, Texas Review, and The Los Angeles Review, among others. He is the recipient of residencies from the Vermont Studio Center and Gemini Ink and is currently a PhD candidate at Oklahoma State University, where he serves on the editorial board at Cimarron Review