Lindsay Wilson is currently serving as poet laureate of Reno, Nevada. He is an English professor at Truckee Meadows Community College, and he has edited the literary journal, The Meadow, since 2006. He has published five chapbooks, and his first collection, No Elegies, won the Quercus Review Press Spring Book Award. His poetry has appeared in The Bellevue Literary Review, Pank, The Carolina Quarterly, Verse Daily, and The Missouri Review Online.
Death divides us into those who can clean
the blood stains of family and those who cannot.
The coroner called it pooling, normal,
this dark troubled-spot by her bed,
but I named it place of her last misstep, thought,
and had no desire to clean it. For days
I walked past it, stepping over its threshold
as I entered the room to part the black out
curtains covering the glass door to the patio,
but the light never seemed long enough
to reach it, wash it—even evening’s length
of light could not touch it. I took out
my measuring tape, a pencil, a small notebook,
a matter of inches. I thought perhaps
during one of June’s long days the sun
could make it. I had plans, calendars
and almanacs; though, I always fail
at forethought and math, but on that shrinking
late September day, the sun stopped two
and a quarter inches from her blood. I know.
I measured twice. When I stretched out
next to it, almost my whole body aglow
in dusk-light, all the dead relatives
from their pictures seemed to watch.
I memorized the ages of all of them,
then divided by the distance between frames,
added the baby nephew before I subtracted
all the Baptist family in Dallas, and I understood
this is where it ends, mother, alone and blue-lipped
on the stained carpet as the gathered dead
look down on us with all of those unblinking
eyes, all those still mouths, and that carefully
measured distance between us shrinking.