At dusk the streetlights stand like beacons to the underworld, a girl runs toward me beaded with rain and sweat. I think husk, wheels— seeds rattle, shake loose and a candle is held to the egg's red mass she is too young to see. In Pompeii those bodies are not bodies but plaster poured into the cavity where a body once lay, no less a hand pushing back ash, no less a woman with her unborn child twisting for a pocket of air, the forge, the fire, the glimpsed blade, a door we close quickly, just as my brother said Now I know I will die, and I thought of course and not me in the same second. We kept driving, arrived at the airport and the next day our father did die— aria, the birds rising at the sound of the explosion and plums, succulent ashy, burnished. Walking down the Spanish Steps on a Sunday morning in October, no one there yet, Keats' window open, you said Ten or fifteen years from now when I am gone, come back. You touched our absence from each other, the fifteen years ahead you've always had— when in dreams I am older and you remain as you were when we first met, before devotion was returned, or was it that I let it be—our lives together suddenly recognizable as if seared pages fallen from a larger book.
From Undone, published by New Issues Press. Copyright © 2011 by Maxine Scates. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.