Size / / /

Late on a Friday night
or early on a Saturday morning,
they drive to a cemetery
near the university,
the one with a good view of the dark river.

With considerable effort,
they uproot a tombstone,
load it in the trunk of the old car,
pull down the crumbling slope
and transplant it in the water,
the splash lifting
in a commemorative bouquet
that withers quickly back into dark water.

They tell each other that they will become
a living monument,
holding the deceased one's name
in memory forever.

Backing up the slope,
the car sticks in reverse
and they go on for miles, it seems,
before they can get it into first gear
and drive the rest of the way
facing forward instead of backwards.

Perhaps this is a preview.

The next morning,
in their dorm rooms,
each realizes alcohol has erased
the absent one's name
more fully even than the river could.

Many years later,
one of them wakes up at 2 A.M.
A small voice is whispering.
"George . . . George something . . ."
in his ear.

He listens closer:
it's the cat that wants in.
He opens the door
and the wind comes in, too,
a dark river driven by the night.

He thinks he hears it ask:
"1908 to something something something?"

 

Copyright © 2004 Duane Ackerson

(Comments on this story | Poetry Forum | Main Forum Index | Forum Login)


Duane Ackerson has received a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and edited The Dragonfly for seven years. Collections of his poems and prose poems include Weathering, The Eggplant & Other Absurdities and, most recently, The Bird at the End of the Universe. His previous publications in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive. To contact him, email ackerson@navicom.com.



Duane Ackerson's poetry has appeared in Rolling Stone, Yankee, Prairie Schooner, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Cloudbank, alba, Starline, Dreams & Nightmares, and several hundred other places. He has won two Rhysling awards and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Salem, Oregon. You can find more of his work in our archives.
Current Issue
16 Sep 2019

A child falls. A raven feeds. A valravn flies away.
By: Marie Brennan
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Marie Brennan's “This Is How.”
abandoned but whole, and full, and drenched with the perfumes of summer nights and rose-hush
By: Hester J. Rook
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Hester J. Rook
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Hester J. Rook's “Stepping the Path Trod by the Moon,” as read by the poet themselves.
I have always loved admiring classical paintings. Namely, Rembrandt and Klimt.
Friday: The Green and Growing by Erin K. Wagner 
Issue 9 Sep 2019
By: Shiv Ramdas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Sarah Shirley
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
31 Aug 2019
Brazil Special Issue call for fiction submissions!
Issue 26 Aug 2019
By: Cynthia So
Podcast read by: Cynthia So
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 19 Aug 2019
By: S. R. Mandel
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 12 Aug 2019
By: Niyah Morris
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Dante Luiz
Art by: Em Allen
By: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Rasha Abdulhadi
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 5 Aug 2019
By: Aisha Phoenix
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Alexandra Seidel
Podcast read by: Alexandra Seidel
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
31 Jul 2019
We're all so very excited to put your funds and good faith to use, providing a platform for voices⁠ new and international, creative and resisting.
Issue 29 Jul 2019
22 Jul 2019
As of July 21st, we are FULLY FUNDED with all of the fund drive content unlocked.
Issue 22 Jul 2019
By: Sionnain Buckley
Podcast read by: Sionnain Buckley
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Load More
%d bloggers like this: