Leaving Well Enough Alone

James Hoch


In the dream of my death it is snowing,
my mother and father are together, happy,
I think, like they've let go of something
sharp in the snowy kingdom of my death
and forgot themselves frolicking ankle deep.
When they were alive, it took a few drinks
for this want for life. Then not at all. Okay,
wool coats, cartoon mittens, laughter—
leave well enough alone, I tell my dead self.
The snow is like a bed we once piled on,
a photograph I saw and marveled over,
as if it walked out of nothing and got lost.
The way dreams dissolve, just as the artifice
of dreams appear, just as my orphan self steps
out of snow and puts his hand on my shoulder.
My orphan self never wears a shirt, so I see
the photo tattooed in the center of his chest.
All my life I've confused a hand calming me
with a hand waking me. This woman sleeping
beside me, who nudges against my sleep
as she falls quietly back into her own dream,
I have no idea what she is dreaming, though
I've loved her for years. Lying on her side,
her scent lays my orphan self down in a bath.
I want to say that somewhere inside her
there's a joy made of water. I want to wake
and tell her, like I've discovered something.
Do you see how I am always the orphan boy
waiting for the sure hand of togetherness?
I want to ask if she's okay that my parents
suffer in our bed, that the god of consent
grants us our being. But it's taken a life
to learn how to let her be, how to take off
my clothes in the always falling snow
and let sleep drink us in, this country of
tongue and finger and mouths open to sky.