The first eternity is things,
the second our imagining,
the third my soul, flying out to her,
donning the purple robe she sewed,
Wisconsin winter, thirty years ago.
Purple, the color of a king.
I wear that robe New Orleans June.
Of the wounds, this is just one.

I asked our priest to bring her back
but not like this, these open sores,
the stinging cold clutch coffee cup
“Peter-” embossed she gifted me,
stabbing, meshing with shoulder ache.

Father Jim swears she’s in eternity.
“Take this on faith. We can’t imagine it.”
Father, imagination is my faith,
a tiny wasp delivering its sound
so transparent I only know it’s here
when the pain leaves. These fitted sheets
she purchased for their mottled reds.
They’re speckled like the chiseled stone
enclosing her, the columbarium.

Coincidence- stings. Father, you insist
there’s no such thing as coincidence.
Tell me, which of these towels she piled up
to keep a rainbow in my hand,
the orange, azure or the red
should I choose to bury my face,
0r the purple, now I’m crying?

Peter Cooley

Peter Cooley was born and educated in the Midwest and has lived over half of his life in New Orleans, where he was Professor of English and Director of Creative writing at Tulane University and is now Professor Emeritus. The former Poet Laureate of Louisiana, he received the Marble Faun Award in Poetry and an Atlas Grant from the state of Louisiana. The father of three grown children, he published his tenth book World Without Finishing in 2018.

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