The setting sun is a slant of gold,

bright as grieving yahrzeit light.

A hush of wind barely moves the leaves

on a grove of ancient honey-locust trees.

Galaxies away, musty voices of the dead

are barely audible. When I was a boy,

parents laughed or cried for no reason

that I could understand.

In a delirium of nostalgia, I mine artifacts

of days gone by in scenes behind my eyelids.

Outside of a hand hewn beamed cabin

I see my Shakespeare fishing rod

chewed up by beavers,

there’s Dad’s Borgward that ran great,

an Evinrude, a Coleman canoe, a portage

at Lake Nominingue where we drank water

from the lake and chased bears cubs away

before their mother returned.

No longer huddled in a Stanton Street tenement,

we luxuriated under a blue sky of beveled glass.

Elated to discover Ojibwa fossils along the shore,

but, when the sun set, we had to jump in the lake

to escape hordes of black flies and no-see-ums.

Phantom souls murmur life is unfair,

and warn me not to expect to rise above

the double calamity of cancer and heart failure,

and the unspeakable loss of a brother and son

in an unwanted war.

I’m curious of what it’s like to be dead

and wonder what they see back on earth.

Family and friends must wait for me

to join them adrift in oblivion.

Loved ghosts fill my dreams and mumble:

“We are all scarecrows who don’t fool anyone,

especially the crows.”