Roy Herndon Smith

…these are fundamental absences, struggling to get up and be off themselves.
—John Ashbery


He throws himself down
on the grass. His grandfather
asks, “Are you okay?”

He gets up; he bends
over; he puts the top of
his head on the grass,

and does a short-lived
half headstand gangling into
a half somesault.

His grandfather cheers.
He gets up and looks across
the vast empty field

at an almost not
seeable form sitting with
other tiny forms.

He cries out, “Mama!”
and runs, tottering, towards her,
through eternity.


Grandfather follows,
remembering her, newborn,
crying out when he

laid her down on the
cold table for the endless
instant before he

found the cloth to wrap
her up in and held her still
and warm in his hands.

Later, when he woke
with her sleeping on his chest,
she enveloped him

in the vast loss of
the knowable, the wonder
of the waiting all.