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Tedium, Traditions

an elegy for Eli Todd

by Ryan Thoresen Carson

The weary heart it drags on the Northern New York arteries

the pumping blood of the cars make noise, like all your time

accelerating past you, on the side of the road. It’s a hike,

I say, feeling pretty dazed from all that sun. The soul it savages,

it makes things up, that will never happen, but could have.


When I stare up at the sky that allows things to drift, not like down here,

where the wind can still lap up the flames to roar and then disappear.


I wish there had been a roar when you disappeared, instead

I was going about my day. I attended a rally, I’m always at a rally.


So my days begin to be marked more by moments of stillness

than by acceleration. I got a call on the phone, not a roar but a ring.


I wish I could say that answering felt monumental

but I’m always picking up phones. Instead, Anika told me the world’s

worst joke, that you were dead. I laughed and told her that wasn’t

very funny. I was about to ask if she were around for a drink,

I was hungover, I had had a drink with you the night before,


I could use another.


So now I’m walking over foothills outside Binghamton and my feet

have begun to stink. The grit on my legs marking my distance

is distorting my sunburns into streaks. I would weep if it weren’t

for the beauty. I wish I could weep for the beauty, but there’s so many

things that you’ll never see, so how beautiful could they be?


Besides, what would you care, you have more in common

with the dirt than with my words about it.


We covered you in it when you died, without a headstone. Traditions.

They carry us only so far, but it’s nice to have a crutch. Dirt finds its way,

like ghastly glitter found after a particularly bleak send off party.

I hoped it would cling, began resisting the necessary washings, like a teen

who had just touched their idol. I did keep totems, small at first, but then

wearing a patch of yours on my jacket, wearing the headstone

you would receive nine-months later, after judgment,

a monument to the judgment of tradition.

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