The Sighting

I saw her in the subway, father’s old girlfriend,
hunched, wisps of grey hair, her eyes afraid.
I almost yelled, “Marge!” She saw me and rushed  
through the swinging doors and  I felt him groan 
inside me. How did he know I knew? I followed 
her upstairs into the bus terminal, into the miles,

into the years, waving. I could see the sleeveless
dress she wore to the Studio Bar & Grill—her small
hips, the hoop earrings, her newly moisturized hands,
the quick turn of her mouth as she smiled, as she wept,
giving herself in the back of his car, who at the wake 
stood in the back of the room, mouthing his name,

while the priest sprinkled the usual blessing 
and mother clutched the folds of her dress
as Marge slipped out the door. But I’m waving
and calling, where she’s boarding for Jersey,
the shore, the boardwalk she walked with him
the long week-ends when he never came home.

He’s rattling and insisting inside me, lifting 
my hand. I’m almost there, almost in Atlantic
City, her sunburned shoulders bare in the cool
arcade, his words blowing into my throat, until
I cry out, she’s looking down from her window,
her face dry and sad, and I am suddenly old.
John Allman | Mudlark No. 37
Contents | Nature