After the Ambulance

Carpenter ants picked the T-bone clean.

    The dog’s leash tautened toward
          a square of sun.

A hallway lamp wavered.

     Slice of lit motes through
          the cracked bedroom door.

Her slipper under the bed, another on the armchair.

     On the shell comb, a single strand.
          Her blue robe still damp.




a narrow bed in an endless
row of beds tucked tight
like chalk-white pills
cocooned in plastic

no visitors no cellphone no
end to night but the nurse
who relayed messages
telegraphic—send blue

bathrobe Saint Jude
rosary lime-flavored
Jell-O chenille slippers
boar bristle brush




            why am I here?    

pressed in her suitcase
between terrycloth and silk          

            where is my husband?     

on a prescription slip, scribbled
in her physician scrawl          

            when will I go home?

barely three days before
the words slowed to a trickle

Prelude and Fugue

Something of late November
   sifting through a window
brings back this prelude—

   two voices blend, I lean
into the keys, draw back
   when the voices part.

How the body remembers—
    Señora V in a floral sundress,
rose talcum hand soft

   on the curve of my spine
imprinting what she knew
   of love and time. How could I know

what those notes would mean
   decades of preludes ahead.

Four Years After Diagnosis

Suddenly, rain. Our heads
  bowed together like monks
in this hot green place.

   I study the slow script
of her movements. The cross
   and uncross of her legs,

fingers forking together,
   pulling apart. Secret dialect
of her face—a firefly flick

   in the iris, lips curling
like kelp. Speak, mother.
   Your daughter is listening.