Old Pillow

by Rick Benjamin

So flattened by weight, gravity
or loss of down or foam
it lay beneath my head no

softer than ground, so many
decades of seeing me to sleep
or not, toward good dreams

or nightmares or my hours
turning over days like compost
piles, all those nights becoming

many miles of a life so unsettled
it kept me awake half of the time.
Still, to me it was sublime, smell

taking me all the way back to my
college days & maybe even beyond
that, to boyhood, not best of times,

barely tolerable, yet I clung
to it as if it was something
loved.  My older neck ached

for something comforting,
sleep-inducing, tuned to a
life I had grown into. I got us

both new pillows.  You traded up,
while I put mine on top of the one
I might have left behind, replaced

but not gone, ghost-ground, so
slight in the way of padding for
these fewer years I had ahead.

Rick Benjamin’s has published four books of poetry, most recently Some Bodies in the Grief Bed (forthcoming from Homebound Publications). His current project is a book about work that poetry helps us to do in our lives. He teaches at UCSB, Goleta Boys & Girls Club, Community Arts Workshop, a juvenile detention facility and elsewhere.