Fall 2022, Volume 33

Poetry by Michael Lauchlan

Elegy with Questions

Soon, they’ll be gone, those
who knew the soft twist of your mouth
as you’d puff a smokey comeback
into the world–if you’re so smart
why ain’t you rich. This, a tenderness.
Later, who’ll recall the solitary fog
of your last years? Few can know
that we’ve inherited your essential salt–
we who departed the room of your death
like sandaled survivors tapping sticks
and bearing your lexicon into the future.
What use, this irreducible gift, odd
as the railroad spike on my bookshelf?
With so little, how did you make it
from each day to the next?

And how do I? What cosmic law
of gravitational lensing brings your eyes,
your quick smile into sharp relief?
Have I ever really seen your face,
you who shaped me from the rough
gray elements at hand? You might
have added more flint, I suppose,
or hair, both in short supply now,
in this dismal season. And I might
have stayed at your side, might
have repeated answers to the same
questions until you finally drowsed.
What you left us: a stubborn grip
on hope, an ear for how humor
percolates in our fate, in the scant
words we breathe to each other.




BIO: Michael Lauchlan has contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Sugar House Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, and Lake Effect. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from WSU Press (2015). His next collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.