The Road to Wellsville

 On the way to see Norm
 We drive through sleepy old small towns
 Long defunct power lines run parallel
 To older railroad tracks
 Blue glass conductors still perch atop them
 Like birds, shiny and still in the sunlight.
 Forgotten antiques.
 They use them now to make lighting fixtures;
 Small table lamps and candle holders
 Affixed to painted pieces of heavy pipe.
 I wonder if the artists of these lamps
 Come to places like this and harvest them
 Like picking apples from a tree.
  
 “Welcome to Wellsville”
 We’re almost there.
 Norm’s home town
 Where he’s only recently returned.
 I’m going to say goodbye.
 We all are
 Even though we don’t say it out loud.
 We’ve brought poetry, and grapes
 And love
 For our dear friend
 And hopefully
 Peace, and endless gratitude.
  
 On the way they tell me
 He’s a shell of his former self
 (I hear: a ghost)
 As much as I try to prepare myself,
 I’m not.
  
 Last door on the left
 Room 108
 I held his hand for hours;
 He held mine 
 Right back.
  
 His words come slowly now
 In short bursts.
 We hang on every word
 Hunched forward
 Starving for his voice.
  
 “I worked 
 Since I was in
 The war.
 I knew
 12 languages.
 I was
 A spy.
 I paid 
 For that
 And paid
 For that
 And paid
 For that
 Over and over
 A thousand times
 Over.
  
 Am I 
 Invisible
 Yet?”
  
 On the way home the same phrase keeps going through my head:
 “The trouble is,
 We think we have time.” (Buddha) 

Norm Davis, reading from the first issue of HazMat Review (Pure Kona, August, 2017).

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