Poetry and Aging Parents, Part 3

The loss of an aging parent is not an isolated event. Rather, their passing is part of the thinning social fabric of middle age and beyond. Siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins friends, associates and casual acquaintances all start to take their leave, so many quietly gone, so many to remember. Alan Shapiro’s poem Wherever My Dead Go When I’m Not Remembering Them conjures up the world of these departed souls who search to find those who remember them and why…

Wherever My Dead Go When I’m Not Remembering Them
By Alan Shapiro

Not gone, not here, a fern trace in the stone
of living tissue it can quicken from;
or the dried–upchannel and the absent current;
or maybe it’s like a subway passenger 
on a platform in a dim lit station late
at night between trains, after the trains have stopped—
ahead only the faintest rumbling of 
the last one disappearing, and behind
the dark you’re looking down for any hint
of light—where is it? why won’t it come? You
wandering now along the yellow line, 
restless, not knowing who you are, or where, 
until you see it; there it is, at last
approaching, and you hurry to the spot 
you don’t know how you know is marked
for you, and you alone, as the door slides open 
into your being once again my father,
my sister or brother, as if nothing’s changed,
as if to be known were the destination. 
Where are we going? What are we doing here?
You don’t ask, you don’t notice the blur of stations
we’re racing past, the others out there watching
in the dim light, baffled, 
who for a moment thought the train was theirs.