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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, September 27, 2017.
About this Poem 
“I think a lot about ceremony and ritual. Not so long ago, my oldest child left home to drive across the country to live. I realized I was treating this moment as a ceremony (for both of us) and trying to protect him on his journey with my own invented or inherited rituals—the rosary, the right song for the right moment on his drive. So, here I was stuck with the memory of his childhood and firmly planted in the details around me thinking of this ritualized moment.”
—Kevin Carey
 

Set in Stone

A rosary that was my mother’s
tucked in the glove compartment of his car 
and a copy of Exile on Main Street
with instructions to play track 6
when he hit some lonesome desert highway.
I love him so much my chest hurts,
thinking of him riding off into his own life,
me the weeping shadow left behind (for now). 
I know I’ll see him again but it’s ceremony
we’re talking about after all—
one growing up and one growing older
both wild curses.
A train blows its horn 
the light rising beyond the harbor,
a dog barks from a car window 
and the nostalgia (always dangerous)
hits me like a left hook. 
I’m trapped between the memory
and the moment, 
the deal we make 
if we make it this long,
the markers of a life,
the small worthwhile pieces 
that rattle around in my pockets
waiting to be set somewhere in stone.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Carey. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 27, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Carey. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 27, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Kevin Carey

Kevin Carey is the author of Jesus Was a Homeboy (CavanKerry Press 2016). He is an assistant professor at Salem State University.