“Luanne Again, Southeastern Ohio”

Listen   to John Hazard read this poem.

Reunion: some sit almost nameless
in a motel conference room—red and gold
balloons. Folding chairs and ham. Forty years.
Some have thickened into silence. Some are hard.

For all I know, those faces on a normal day
might stare over sinks, dandelion yards,
the children’s children playing there,
grass-stained photo ops. But who
will tell the stories of Shirley, Fred,
especially Luanne, who lived in town?

Sometimes I dream about that dog of hers,
brown or maybe tawny, hit by a car
outside my uncle’s grocery. It lay
in its blood as she fled crying
to the family store (hardware, paint)

the way I ran home later that year—
fat old Rudy, coal truck,
as I watched by the side of the road.
Her dog was bloodier.
In the place that she’s inherited,
is her silence richer, too,
than my packages of words?
I wouldn’t be the reporter she would choose.

But here I am, Luanne, to say I regret
the vast rock between us. For all I know,
the dogs of your other life—not frisky,
not mean, not especially sweet—have been
steady, staring for scraps or staring from a porch
at grass in a breeze. For all I know,
your other dogs were happy and lived forever.