University of Minnesota
minnesota writing project
center for writing

Minnesota Writing Project.Center for Writing's home page.

Karyn Mickelson

© 2003

how do I tell you?

how do I tell you?
how do I make it known?
it is for me really, the telling
but you are not here—
that is where I must begin.
the stone does not tell me where you are.
the ashes: once conveyed your figure,
poured into two bricks of plastic,
brought back to a city that was known to you
but never a home,
now your resting place
to comfort others.
but the sweet cut grass and the
perfect tulips do not
help me connect to the first man in my life,
the man of my childhood,
a person that could not die but did.
where do I find a place to let you know
that you will be missed by your grandchild,
the one kicking for life within me?
the one we talked about
at the kitchen table over ramen noodles—
only the imagined future of a sixteen-year-old.
I have not yet found that place in the comfort of my church;
the pulpit you never stood in, but was always your place.
it is not by my lake which you never walked with me around.
it is not on my couch because my home was never yours.
our lives separated when I stepped into my own.
so how do I tell you?
how do I make it known
without the familiar and the ours,
without our story and our history
to let me know you are there?