Seniors & Aging

Persona poem: ‘Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine to the Afterlife with Robin Williams’

After Amorak Huey

The limousine is the oyster gray

of early-morning mist. It glides

to the curb in the only parking space

for blocks. The back door opens.

I slide in next to Robin. He is dressed

in faded sweats like he’s just come from a workout

at the gym. His eyes are closed. Maybe

he was dozing, waiting for me

to be done with the last details of death.

Robin and I have never met, but no matter,

we’ve ended up in this vehicle

by virtue of our departure times.

Robin turns to me, hands me a beat-up tin soldier.

“Don’t you love the patina of old toy

soldiers?” he says. I wish I’d brought

a carnation from the graveyard

to give to him. Then I could tell him

about the soap my mother bathed

me with as a child. I could tell him how the man

with palsied hands at the corner convenience store

orders the same soap for me. The driver’s shadow

is just visible through the glass that divides the cab

from the passenger compartment. The radio

is tuned to a gospel station where Louis Armstrong

plays When the Saints Come Marching In.

In seconds we are out of the city

cruising along small-town streets

where a few people wave from the sidewalk.

I like that Robin doesn’t feel compelled

to make me smile. I don’t bother to put on lipstick.

We lean a bit. Our shoulders touch.

From the Bellingham poet’s upcoming book to be published by Brick Road Poetry Press in Georgia.