7/9/2020: the hope or ambition of achieving something 

7/10/2020: consequence of gastric feeding tubes in which food or vomit
                                    is fatally inhaled into the lungs

And what am I supposed to do? Sit in the yard, lungheave
your long-ashed particles in and out until either pollen or light 
headedness coaxes out a closure? Expect it to thud on the grass 
before me like afterbirth? 

And what will I do with it? What will I do when it’s too late when
before it hits the ground, without thinking, it hardens in my eye, silvery 
as cataract, as the fool’s gold you gifted every year, the ones you called 
moonrocks, sent from NASA (you said every time); 
a forced-out ritual 
a premature fossilizing 

It’s hard not to feel I’ve inherited your gift for compression, pinballing
between the two halves of the bogus science magazine about the left and 
right sides of the brain, veined jelly scrambling for carpenter alignment, 
no matter how far into the saving cosmos the temple incense fails  to
take me. 

               But let me tell you,
on my birthday a few days ago, I lifted a puppy’s soft brown body out of 
the cardboard box, wrapping paper splayed in a wheel of approximated 
petals, and saw first (and only) how she would look on her last day, I 
took my time with it: 

euthanized on cool metal, scraps 
steaming on a quiet intersection in July, heaving  
hot car in the mall lot, a fished up chocolate  
belly round with ocean 

               oh, hello
               let me tell you,
I took my time.

Copyright © 2021 by Tian-Ai. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 28, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.