The word is out that Laird is back in town,
Or maybe not-—he doesn’t advertise.
Cagy as always, full of little bits
Of wisdom-lit and recipes and still
A handsome highwayman, he’s double belted
With bullets, bone-knobbed pliers, and a compass.
He sings too loudly, talks too loudly, eats
Peculiar combinations. He won’t lodge
With those who need him; he won’t go away,
Not before night. Or autumn. He makes rules
As need requires. Once he wouldn’t budge
Until the last pin-oak leaf had detached.
One of us climbed the tree and shook it down,
Unable to face any more of Laird.
Tonight we wait for resurrection men.
We’re told the sod will open in the park,
And frontier mamas, babies dead of croup,
And gambling dudes in rotted vests will rise.
There are agnostics, certainly, but Laird,
He has his ways. Leastways, he keeps things warm.
Even the trees have changed since these were laid
In certainty of dark and dank. I shall
Fulfill some promise, Laird says, or I’ll bear
Witness to unfulfillment. There are new
Stones since then, most likely trucked in from Creede.
Do you believe in Everlasting Life?
He asks me. I do not. What I believe
Has not changed much since I was 17,
When I first said that absence was a gift.
There is no sound, except the trucks that leave.
The park is closed. The turf lies still. And Laird
Is nowhere you can find. He’s been and gone,
The cartilage of stories. What a waste,
The scent of pine borne past us on the breeze.