An Answer Without a Question

By Robert Cording

If he were alive, he might have shrugged
and said, things happen for no reason,
but he wasn’t, he was only my son
in a dream, where he found me
sitting in the woods trying to understand
his death. The light looked
as if it were coming from below not above,
rising up out of the ground,
the way darkness first spools around
the trunks of trees and then climbs higher.
I was so happy to be speaking with him,
but, in the middle of what I was saying,
he disappeared. I kept sitting where I was,
as if he’d return again, but I knew
nothing else was going to happen.
When I woke, I had that feeling
I often have when getting into bed
of both dread and the possibility of relief.
I was still partly in the dream, and I felt
he was like a god, utterly removed,
and not knowable any longer.
Shaking, I sat up and tried to focus on
the larches outside feathering the wind,
and a sliver of moon that caught and released
a scrim of fast-moving clouds. I breathed in
the smell of the grass I’d mowed
that afternoon, then rolled toward my wife
whose skin was cool to my touch. Far off
in the woods, I heard the sense-startling
yips and bawls of a pack of coyotes.
All of it came to me in a wave of sensations
impossible to put into words and yet, oddly,
felt like a gift, something like an answer
to a question I could not remember asking him.

Robert Cording taught English and creative writing at College of the Holy
Cross for thirty-eight years and worked as a poetry mentor in the Seattle Pacific
University MFA program. He has published nine collections of poems, the latest
of which is Without My Asking, and a volume of essays on poetry and religion,
Finding the World’s Fullness.

Originally published in NOR 29.

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