The Day Before Closing (for nana)
Out in the yard there is the tree
you planted when I was born.
It’s tropical, fast-growing, but
even so — I can’t circle my arms
around the trunk! The thing
towers above the house, thick
branches like beams, supporting
my sky of childhood. Tomorrow this
place will belong to someone else:
the old gardenias, the dense hedge
of bamboo out by the laundry line,
the bent but still perfectly good mailbox.
Please let them leave a few things
the same. I’ve gone through closets,
cabinets, a dozen times but I keep
finding more old letters, more
scraps of paper bearing your quick,
vivid writing. There, amid
the dustballs glimmers one more
strand of your hair, catching
the wan light, curled and silvery
against the bare floor.
I slip it into my pocket,
then remember how you used to
put on your hose, sitting
on the edge of the bed, sighing
softly as you pulled the rolls
of nylon up your lovely legs.
Just as abrupt comes one last vision
of myself, at five, dancing wildly
in your filmy yellow nightgown,
whirling around the cleared
living room to your applause.