I leave her weeping in her barred little bed,
her warm hand clutching at my hand,
but she doesn't want a kiss, or to hug the dog goodnight—
She was the quietest thing I'd ever seen.
It was so restful, being in her company
For hours, neither of us uttering a word.
I'd read the paper, look up, and she would smile,
Her lips half-pursed, just tucked up at the ends
As if holding a blithe secret.
When I fed her, she'd silently nod and smile,
Like immigrants you see
In train stations or in the movies,
She'd take the bowl from my hands
And nod again and smile again
And neither of us would say a word
From sunup to sunset.
When son and husband came home,
Both talking at once, both talking
With their mouths full,
My daughter and I could only look at them
With our dark quiet eyes.
Siddown, she says now.
I sit down
The summer night is radiantly cool. You'd have liked it.
You'd have loved the chili-pepper of the rose,
white daisies at the zoo, the shell's roseate innards,
the orangey scarlet ibis picking his lit way along the wood-chip path
and penguins flittering through the pond like bats.
"Flying is a kind of swimming," someone wrote;
but swimming is a kind of flying, too,
and you were a mighty swimmer, but
now you hold so still where you lie nailed to the ground,
your eyes up against the pine, your beautiful jaw uptilted
like a man who can't get enough of gazing at the stars
spangled across the summer sky
so that he tightly shuts his lids and will not open them ag
God's leash is on me.
The last time I touched you it seemed
you were already more than halfway his.
I did not believe
you would outlast the night.
You said goodbye in the hospital corridor,
as if you might still, somehow, shake off the holy collar
like a priest laying down his robe.
You stumbled at the door
as full of running sores as Job.
Perhaps you were on your way somewhere
you wanted to be
when G-d said heel and dragged you to shore.