Listen to Mark read “Letulogy.”
At sixty, your traces stalk the hollows
of grocery stores from here to Snowflake,
Arizona. A thatch of curly gray hair
shuttles past the cash register, your cow-
milking hands pull a list out of an empty wallet.
You are forever in the next aisle over,
shaking a watermelon, picking at your
mustache, laughing with the manager
over an inside joke concerning paper or plastic,
laughing through the vegetables of loneliness
and the continual grind of bare freezers
and birthdays without anything, not even a cake.
Today it’s a flannel shirt
I see slipping through sliding glass
doors. Something lost in the hunter’s
worn down red, a familiar set of stripes
running through the plaid. Tomorrow
in San Diego your fingerprints will appear
on a drinking fountain, and in two weeks
a phone call will course from Oahu,
full of guttural questions and sun.
Yet it’s always yesterday
I imagine you near the backwoods
of Oklahoma, opening large stable doors,
then brushing the mane of a palomino
as a bird warbles through the muffled dawn.
You submerge in growing
light, occasionally smiling at nothing
near the end of the street.
You pat the horse and speak
secrets into a flickering ear.
From here I have only this letter
I’m not sure where to send
or a eulogy I am too afraid to speak.
Perhaps, tonight I’ll return
to an obscure shelf in the grocery store,
buy couscous or ask a stranger
to explain the difference between
writing to the disappeared
and speaking to the dead.
That’s when I’ll envision you
again, carrying a saddle
into another dawn’s hazy light,
that’s where the picture fades,
where the horse lowers its head,
eats what’s left out of your hand.
For nearly a decade, Mark D. Bennion has taught writing and literature courses at BYU-Idaho. When not teaching, he can be found watching tennis, playing racquetball, or eating kimchi. He recently published the poetry collection Psalm & Selah: a poetic journey through the Book of Mormon (Parables Publishing). Within three weeks, he and his wife, Kristine, will welcome their fourth child into the world.
“Letulogy” was originally published in The Comstock Review ,Vol. 21, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2007.
4 thoughts on “Guest Post: Letulogy, by Mark Bennion”
Reading this poem, I find Uncle Howard walking easily through my mind. That in spite of the fact I don’t even know the guy.
Lovely poem with an ending that leaves me wanting, in an “I want more” kind of way. Like the horse, I find myself looking for more remainders in the proffered hand of the verse.
This was enjoyable to read and hear at this time because I just finished a book titled “Shy Boy” by Monty Roberts. It’s all about a cowboy and his wild mustang. I loved the beauty of the cowboy language, the slow pace and rich hardy images. Your poem felt like a soft good bye at the end of a great read. It also gave me a bit of a reprieve when I came to the end of a book that I didn’t want to end. Thanks for the timing!
I like your story. It is nice in a sad way. Right now, in my opinion, all it needs is a violin.
Patricia, Lora, and Elizabeth,
This note is a bit late in coming, but thank you for the kind words regarding “Letulogy.”