Are There No Words by James Keane

Are There No Words

Her tiny coffin still
rests on wheels, easy
to gently push, too easy
to lift and carry
the rest of the way
to eternity. Words
from the altar still flutter
away in perpetuity,
unsettled by your
crying, and
crying, and
. . . . . . . .I, a witness
you would not notice
and never knew, alive
in the lifetime leukemia
denied your daughter
and you, survive
to wonder:
. . . . . . . .Did you ever
know laughter, the respite
it can bring; smile with patience
at children, or anyone
imploring you to
sing; find the words
that would not flutter
in futility when you
gave them up – or did your
crying, and
crying, and
never stop.

by James Keane, first published in Indiana Voice Journal.

Editor’s Note: The broken lines mirror the broken heart of the parent—loss doesn’t leave room for clean line breaks.

Homecoming, Newark Airport by James Keane

Homecoming, Newark Airport

I don’t know what you went through
(or went screaming through you)

over there. But all appears forgotten
in the walkway from the plane.

Your family, beaming, still,
as you stride up a steady hill to the

WELCOME HOME someone (all of them?)
committed to cloth just knowing

you were coming back. And here you
stand. Back. Smiles and silence

all around. A hug, patiently,
for your mother. A shove, playfully,

for your sister. Then all there is
is your father. His tight grip. Tightening

grin. Branded with a savage
kiss on both sides of your neck.

by James Keane, first published in The Chimaera.

Editor’s Note: This poem’s enjambment embodies the difficulty of an uncertain homecoming, rife with love, pain, and hope. The last two lines are perfect.