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Cal Freeman

Hennepin Point

Give space always for elegy, 

but walk loosely in your name 

over the tiny peninsulas 

of granite, take a sad gambol 

in weak light with water vapor 

floating through and knees aching 

like archaic verbs, gambol sadly 

in weak light with water vapor 

draping you, don’t gamble 

sadly in weak light

where the hours elapse

undetected, life is not

simply a sad gamble 

because a man 

of 70 who happened 

to be your father died.

Give space, always, for elegy, 

but take care by getting out.


There’s a cyst 

on the roof of your mother’s mouth.

They’re pretty sure it’s nothing, 

benign, useless matter that nonetheless 

will get excised 

and examined.

Grief diffracted into 

holographies of absence,

a mouth that cannot eulogize

for soreness. 


At the end of the trail,

you watch the minks

and otters dive

into the lacustrine backwaters

below the half-sunk

cuddy cabin boat

to emerge no wiser

for their excavations.

You’re sure there’s food

down there, a whole world

you cannot navigate or see.


Your mother’s dog 

fell from her bed yesterday

and began dragging its hind legs

like a caudal fin, like a polliwog

out of water. A few hours later,

the dog was walking fine.

You received two phone calls

with updates on the situation.

You mention it because

the old boat hardly functions

as a buoy or itself.

It’s become an attraction

for amateur photographers.

It might be the end of the world

they imagine when they snap

their shots. It might be

a pat impossibility this imagining 

invokes. You mention it because only 

the image of loneliness 

can make loneliness bearable.


The assets have all been switched

into her name. She’s living well,

as they say. The boat blends 

into an outcropping of poplars 

when viewed from the bay

in the early evening light—

yet another inopulent detail

among so many items in a year

that go half-unrepaired as grief  

before finding new vocations.

Cal Freeman is the author of the book Fight Songs. His writing has appeared in many journals including Commonweal, Southwest Review, The Journal, Rattle, The Poetry Review, PANK, and Hippocampus and he is a recipient of the Devine Poetry Fellowship (judged by Terrance Hayes) and winner of Passages North's Neutrino Prize. His work has also been nominated many times for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize in both poetry and creative nonfiction. He currently serves as Writer-In-Residence with Inside Out Literary Arts Detroit and teaches at Oakland University.

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