Sometimes she's Confucian-- resolute in privation. . . . Each day, more immobile, hip not mending, legs swollen; still she carries her grief with a hard steadiness. Twelve years uncompanioned, there's no point longing for what can't return. This morning, she tells me, she found a robin hunched in the damp dirt by the blossoming white azalea. Still there at noon-- she went out in the yard with her 4-pronged metal cane-- it appeared to be dying. Tonight, when she looked again, the bird had disappeared and in its place, under the bush, was a tiny egg-- "Beautiful robin's-egg blue"-- she carried carefully indoors. "Are you keeping it warm?" I ask--what am I thinking?-- And she: "Gail, I don't want a bird, I want a blue egg."
You're the shadow shadow lurking in me and the lunatic light waiting in that shadow. Ghostwriter of my half-life, intention's ambush I can't prepare for, ruthless whammy you have me ogling a blinding sun, my right eye naked even with both lids closed— glowering sun, unerring navigator around this darkened room, you're my laser probe, I'm your unwilling wavelength, I can never transcend your modus operandi, I've given up trying to outsmart you, and the new thinking says I didn't invent you— whatever you were to me I've outgrown, I don't need you, but you're tenacity embodied, tightening my skull, my temple, like plastic wrap. Many times, I've traveled to a dry climate that wouldn't pander to you, as if the great map of America's deserts held the key to a pain-free future, but you were an encroaching line in the sand, then you were the sand. We've spent the best years of my life intertwined: wherever I land you entrap me in the unraveled faces of panhandlers, their features my features— you, little death I won't stop for, little death luring me across your footbridge to the other side, oblivion's anodyne. Soon—I can't know where or when— we'll dance ache to ache again on my life's fragments, one part abandoned, the other abundance—