O Funicular, Ropes, Counterbalance
Today, I misread dishtowel as death towel—
white with stitched skull and crossbones,
nightshade, hemlock, delicately embroidered
in purple thread, silk. There’s a terrible wind
stealing the neighborhood’s recycling, dragging it
down sidewalks. Birds shelter in place
all but invisible as I sit here staring at a bouquet
of pussy willows, thinking about Keats—
his lock of hair in a crooked cabinet, the plaster death mask,
how they burned everything but that ceiling—
sky blue, white medallions. I say funicular out loud—
like funnel, like ocular, like familiar, like fun.
What I remember is never what others remember.
I rode the Duquesne Incline up the mountainside
with my father. We went up, we went down—it was slow,
it was long before I misread dishtowel as death towel.
Up, down, up, down without questioning the mechanics:
ropes, counterbalance. The day my father died I told him
everything I wanted to tell him. Mostly, I thanked him.
First published in Spillway.
Cindy Veach is the author of Her Kind (CavanKerry Press, forthcoming 2021), Gloved Against Blood (CavanKerry Press), named a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and a ‘Must Read’ by The Massachusetts Center for the Book, and the chapbook, Innocents (Nixes Mate). Her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day Series, AGNI, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, Diode and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Philip Booth Poetry Prize and the Samuel Allen Washington Prize. Cindy is co-poetry editor of Mom Egg Review. cindyveach.com