I did not call your widow. I drove
to your house on Neptune Road
and stayed across the street,
as your neighbors did six months ago
when they heard the ambulance arrive
after your wife found you
when she came home from teaching school.
No car in the driveway. Would I go to the door
if it was? Would she invite me in? Would I hear
my story in your life and death, feel her fingertips
touching as she would have sat and grieved?
She would probably take me to the backyard,
show me the garden you planted, the trees you nurtured
before you left, too soon for bushes and flowers
to fill your design, trees too small for blossoms or leaves.
When I last saw your son, he was beginning to walk.
Your wife said he is the spitting image of you.
Would I meet a sullen young man
bottling sadness and fury?
If I sat in your chair, the beer you drank
would be on my breath, your cigarette
smoke on my skin, filled with silent rage
at the goddamn pricks who fired you.
Would I be paralyzed by despair, written
and stored in the notebooks your mother
told me about when she told me of your death?
Would I look out the window?
I would dread going to the bedroom
where you took out your gun and pointed
it at your heart. I would feel the barrel
on my chest, finger on the trigger
as I stand in the room.
A recent Jack Straw Writer’s Resident and MFA graduate at the University of Washington, Corbin Louis is a Seattle native making work out of a legacy of grunge and rain and illness. Each piece serves as a form of sublimation, transforming dysfunction into arrangements of self-reflection and cultural critique. Corbin’s goal as an artist is to garner awareness and support around mental illness by creating pieces that shriek for understanding, and he has been published by Best American Experimental Writing, Random Sample Review, Visible Poetry Project and others.