How the Light Escapes Us – Thomas Allbaugh

It dawns on me
entering my college roommate’s new
apartment, I haven’t been here for a while,
late 1970s stagflation sunshine,
leaf shadows in the window,
his new young wife, the only one
who could turn him from self and
destruction to the trees and streets of
walks all over town, what became our slide shows,
even the pavement signifying disease
and healing—

as with all revisits,
neglected so many years
the slide projector’s plastic and metal hitching
sixteenths of an inch forward
spits up blanc on the dark wall
no new realms,
waiting for maintenance,
looking to the door again as the slides show
only absence and scene break
as I remember they never
would know my son.

The bridges too are unseen
that transposed, forgotten once used,
all to new continents
to flower into the newly overheard
carried across so many
washes and new freeways
dividing and then eventually only subdividing
deserts further in
where atmospheres exist but
no ideas.

A week before my son left us,
59 were shot dead
in Vegas. Four nights later
that wasn’t the reason he told us
he would leave.
Believers talk of his being
in heaven, perhaps all believers would,
but not Dante’s kind of being,
no, something more
middle class, a-corporeal, Hall Marky,
angels and butterflies, a Polaroid moment
I keep waiting for that never
takes any shadows, quick snapshot of sky
so now I hold it to the
air thinking maybe the sky
will color it in,
snapshot of what
remains white and faded
in the sun.

Tom AllbaughThomas Allbaugh has published Apocalypse TV, a novel, Subtle Man Loses His Day Job and Other Stories, and The View from January, a chapbook of poems. His work has appeared in Broken Sky 67 and Relief. He is a professor of English at Azusa Pacific University, where he teaches composition and creative writing.