Beyond the moon, beyond planet blue 
and planet red, each day further 
from the sun she floats out toward

the empty dark of X. Having done 
what she was sent out years before 
to do, she gave up sending even

the faintest signals back to earth, 
to bend instead her shattered wings 
across her breast for warmth. It is

late, he knows, and knows it will only 
go on getting later. He shifts alone 
in the late November light before

her grave, as so often he has done 
these past five years, to try 
and finish what he knows to be

unfinished business and must remain 
that way: this one-way dialogue 
between the self, and--in her absence--

the mother in himself. Epilogue, perhaps, 
to what one man might do to heal 
the shaken ghost which must at last admit

just how many years ago she logged off 
on her journey. So that now, as darkness 
drops about him like some discarded coat,

old but useful, such as his mother used 
to wear, he takes it to him, much as 
she did, to ward against the cold.

From The Great Wheel, published by W. W. Norton & Company, 1996. Copyright © 1996 by Paul Mariani. Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.