by James Orbison

I mean to say: the first time I realized 
I would die, I was in the bath.
You don’t believe me
because this is all too asked and answered, 
all and then I learned, but here are facts: 
My mother sat on the closed-lid toilet.
I had yelled for her. When my face got too hot and red 
I would dunk my head in the bathwater, which was cold. 
We had been sitting there for a while, in winter.
I said, “Mother, I am quite sure of my pain
because everyone dies, and everyone has to watch
as everyone dies.” Or something like that. 
She consoled me then, but I cannot remember how.
She turned on the warm water and kissed my head.
White tile gently confronting 
my body in a small space—plenty reason
to wonder about inevitable things, 
unforgiving things, coldness.
Also when I think of that 
I see, two colors—black and very dark blue swirling 
so fast they were practically indistinguishable.
But maybe the growing mind distills these things:
now I am reminded by the image of deep space I set 
as my computer desktop.
I tell my brother it is getting harder to write each day.
He jokes. He says, “What has healed your heart?”