One Illuminated Letter of Being, Donald Platt’s new collection of thirty-two heart-wrenching poems, is oriented around the loss of his mother—itself a disorienting experience, for anyone—that anticipates her death, reconciles itself to it, and resumes living, in a new way.
You are growing and this is a starry condition.
Move about this small room called earth
as if fear fell asleep in some other room,
Can cats tell the difference between a real and electric fire
Does cold air blow in or warm air flow out
Do you have dreams where you fly out a window.
There we always were, in always again, enjambed helter skelter on a Sealy
Posturepedic neither could leave. Outside cranes pounded the earth, & dead
Where shall we bury your mother? You asked her once and she said, smiling, why not keep me in the basement? Our basement is a joke, crammed illogically with old toys, kid’s drawings, moldy books, our parents’ teacups and old furniture, our own rough drafts and old taxes. What we just can’t get rid of.
A small silver amulet, an imperfect circle, hangs on a string around my neck. One sister got it for me on my birthday. Then another for herself. And one for the eldest, whose heart had been broken, as well.
The sea is roped off by yellow caution tape and orange barricades, the colors reminding me of jellyfish that sometimes wash up to the shore, that I sometimes mistake for toys.
It is 2020 and it seems that we all feel immersed in destruction. Destruction surrounds us and we struggle to understand our own complicity in it. This was true when John Sibley Willams’ book, As One Fire Consumes Another was released in April 2019, and seems to have become an even more pressing reality in the year since.
When I was about to die
I went hunting for
with that generic plastic bag
with the smiling face: