North State

by David Rigsbee


My father came to me in a dream

to walk with me around a stadium.

Not wearing the jaunty motley of his last months:

the patchwork newsboy cap and paneled shirt

he wore when tearing around town,

smoke streaming from the car window.

“I’m not gonna make it,” he said.

“This may be the last time.

I don’t have the breath for it.”

We cried and smiled all at once.

The apparition faded, and I lapped the spot

before I knew. That morning

I had stopped to take some pictures

of a new structure: a five-story globe

affixed to a museum headquarters.

It was Sunday, the crews were gone,

but the wooden scaffolding clung

to the girders, “North State Steel”

spray-painted on each rib.

I had come before the planks were taken away

like crosshatching erased,

before the world was made,

the panels bolted in place and painted

that planetary blue of earth from space,

that pendant marble

on which everything is always lost

like a glass eye that never sees

what it never ceases to watch.


-excerpted from the book 27 Views of Raleigh