I miss the sound of the dial tone
and the urgent beeping of a phone, telling you
it was left off the hook
I miss the light ‘ting’ a phone will make when the receiver is placed
too hard back into its cradle.
I miss the way I could surprise a laugh out of her
even when she was depressed
earning a grudging respect that felt better than love,
felt like steel, cold and hard yes but reliable.
I miss being young with you
when I couldn’t imagine that getting older would happen for me
I was confident at an early age I would go sooner
not later. It was a confidence that confused people who
were with me a lot but still knew me only a little
through no fault of their own.
I miss driving the long two lane road in Houston,
when you were out of town
the dog in the passenger seat, curled,
the heater blowing on him
fingers of wind in my hair.
May the wind take your troubles away,
sang a voice from my radio
with the accents of my childhood —
a voice of difficult beauty,
a voice that is the hoarse echo
of the sound a steel guitar makes.
I miss driving the country roads
those long licks of concrete
connecting the cornfields
squeezing over to one side, slowly
and saluting the farmers on their combines
with a single finger lifted from the wheel
or a two finger touch to the brim of your cap
real or imaginary.
I miss pulling the car over
the way we did sometimes
laying back on the hood to look
at great big billowing clouds
the corn orderly marching in reassuring rows
but the clouds were chaos –
the clouds were magic the clouds were predictors
of how it was going to be,