This is the place. No chairs.
A woman who is choosing
has sent a petal from her bloom
of conscious closing.
The woman who is choosing when
—scratches vellum. The rook stands.
The woman in the nest of
the phoenix hovers nearer
her edge like that brood of birthing
opal-throated pigeons in an empty
thirsty, one stair above my sill,
breaking their shells one by
one. She repeats
from dusk in a jungle where
medicine leaned small against thorn trees.
Each poison growing in a forest
lives beside its antidote, we said.
I am still eager, I said.
Or the scent of hyacinth.
The woman remembering, who is
choosing when to die will
curl before leaves have blood-burned September.
Surrender by starvation,
she doesn’t name her illness
only how many days.
Three more. The woman
in worn white cotton washed us in a tide pool,
brewed petals, shouted under
egrets at the edge of rain. Bon voyage to me & love
life as you live it she scribbles blue before her breath
ends a night and a day and the broken slant
The woman who was choosing when to die.
Too young to be skeletal, skin taken wing.
Bone no longer needed. Dove.
Fire-eyed. Distant. Opal.
The root does not care
where her water comes from.
Here is another thirsty body.
Broken into morning.
About this Poem
“A woman I once knew many years before—suddenly wrote to me to say that she had come across a poem of mine that had been meaningful to her, and that by the time I received her card, she would no longer be in the body. I began this poem, not knowing if it could be reply or elegy. One week later, I heard that it was the latter.”
Date Published: 2013-03-08
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/dusk