Margaret Bauer: Poetry: March 2022

Southern legitimacy statement: I am originally from south Louisiana, where I grew up on the Bayou Teche. I now call eastern North Carolina home, where I live part-time on the Pamlico River. I teach at East Carolina University. I’ve written about Southern writers through most of my career, but have turned the page and am writing memoir–and occasionally a poem.

A Visitation

	for Irene

	“Can’t he be just a little bit dead?”—Alberta Turner, “Yes, Prue, We All Can Except the Robin”

“Tell Irene I’m fine,” he told me 
weeks after his death. 
“Tell her I don’t need all this anymore,” he said, 
waving his arm toward 
his side of the bed, 
where I see a large oxygen tank
I never saw, only heard about. 
But there it was, 
and on the bedside table,
so much medicine.

But what about us?
Did you not need us?
To see us, one more time?
I did not ask.

“Did you tell Irene about your dream?” 
my stepmother asked. My sister looked up, puzzled. 
I hadn’t thought to. I’d forgotten her
in my relief to see him. 
I thought he had come for me.
It was proof, wasn’t it? The proof 
I’d sought that Daddy was still—
    somewhere.

Next time I will ask him.
Where are you?
Why did you go?
Couldn’t you wait?
I was on my way.