Hazel in Room 224 stops me, says she knows
I’m not her granddaughter, but loves
me anyway, reaches to lipstick my cheek,
her teeth caked pink, a baby bird mouth
opening and closing as I pass by. Next
door, you think it is Sunday and we are
on an island, your long-dead father in the corner
salmon scales on his fingers and work boots
stiff with sap. Everyone I know knocks
but won’t enter. I’ve buried you a dozen times
this way: smiled at cafeteria cashiers, sorted
through sacks of personal effects, found myself
holding keys with locks that can’t be found.
You’ve been following the path of trappers,
naked in the snow-starred night, sending messages
into space, recording the secret longing of trees.
Everyone I know asks questions I can’t answer,
ushers me toward a westward running torrent
without the comfort of a firm bank. I’ve exhumed
you a hundred times this way: rivers that once
built an empire fall toward the ocean, rust grows
thick and somewhere, somewhere, somewhere
pilings make shadows, stand still as the water rises
because it is all they know to do.