After so much time you think you'd have it netted in the mesh of language. But again it reconfigures, slick as Proteus. You're in the kitchen talking with your ex-Navy brother, his two kids snaking over his tattooed arms, as he goes on & on about being out of work again. For an hour now you've listened, his face growing dimmer in the lamplight as you keep glancing at your watch until it's there again: the ghost rising as it did that first time when you, the oldest, left home to marry. You're in the boat again, alone, and staring at the six of them, your sisters & your brothers, their faces bobbing in the water, as their fingers grapple for the gunwales. The ship is going down, your mother with it. One oar's locked and feathered, and one oar's lost, there's a slop of gurry pooling in the bottom, and your tiny boat keeps drifting further from them. Between each bitter wave you can count their upturned faces--white roses scattered on a mash of sea, eyes fixed to see what you will do. And you? You their old protector, you their guardian and go-between? Each man for himself, you remember thinking, their faces growing dimmer with each oarstroke.
Paul Mariani - 1940-
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.