Prayer to Francis Wilhelm
When Marco Polo at last arrived,
pale from his passage in the mountains,
did Kubla Kahn immediately take him
for an emissary of the dead?
And what would the dead trade with the living
that they couldn’t pick up on the road?
In a letter to my great grandmother, I have decided,
my great grandfather wrote: meine
endlich vermisse ich dich.
Baby, my heart’s been pounding at
your door for hours. I
you’ve heard a thing.
I don’t know much about
my great grandfather,
which means I get to make it,
for the most part, up.
Hessian, like the headless horseman, but
not headless. I’ve seen him
in a photo grinning in
a three-piece suit in
the shadows in
the back end
of a beach.
Somehow I can’t imagine
back to children
as they climb through the waves and call
the name of a dead explorer trying
to locate themselves.
COOPER WILHELM hails from Portland, Maine, a city that took the phoenix as its symbol in recognition of its penchant for burning down. His work has appeared in Red Branch Journal, in The Opiate, on the Storymakers Association podcast, and elsewhere. He also writes poems on postcards and mails them to strangers he looks up in phonebooks at PoetryAndStrangers.com. He lives in Brooklyn.
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