2007/06/30

Barbara

04:30 woke me to spattering
furtive rain
low clouds and the aftermath of a
storm someone else experienced
to the North. Late.
Dad says, she looks gray as gray.

I had to book another flight
the distance to the first one was now
out of reach by car. So I
spent, lifted, drove, checked
slid through security.
Not even my buttons are metal.
(They say the Sidhe abide neither
iron nor tune, and a pitchfork's
handy at a New Oleanian wake.)

After these rusted hours
I saw my matriarch in her
cloud pale green bedsheets
deflated
like a punctured volleyball her skull
stands out from the pillow
flesh laid back by planetary mass
liquid inside the skin, her arms bones
wavering as she gestures.

She waves at her guests, their words
low hollow loud over the blow
of O2
and hers thin like river rushes
an oboe playing Taps
when she says she's
bored (tired)
in this place without even
televisual hypnotic medication.

So this, I think, when looking down
––Mother and pastor praying with her––
on her supine grace, slate eyes
overwhelmed and lungs
near to giving up wind and psuché,
is what staring ten thousand miles into an
uncertain reward is. Jehovah I wish
I believed in you so my curses
would have a chance to prick and pierce.

She and I have naught to discuss
as we have not been so close
as we use to be, but
still she is, lying there, my ancestor
and besides even if I didn't owe her
something I oblige myself
to try magic for loved ones.

Her flesh is warm and dry, feels
like a soft tortilla over hard
veins, pushed by ever-increasing heartrate
as gas exchange fails
and the antibiotics may save her
long enough for tumors
to finally
do her in. And if I want to
scream at the sky
motherfucker
that's nothing beside what
boils behind her slate colored
eyes, hair, skin.

If I could pray, I would pray for her
to go before it's too late.
If I could cry, I would shed sugary
water on the drooping blooms of a
lily growing from a mound of limestone gravel.

She has a tray with cold tea,
a styrofoam ice cup and pencil.
On the counter by the wall, a small
jar of baby food: apple sauce,
eaten just down to the label
no spoon in sight.

Cytotoxic chemicals yellow flowing
from one of four IV bags
and piss dripping yellow-brown
from a catherter,
these tubes are now outside
vessels and veins
for the water between her hair
and toes, her lymph––blood––
mucus––sweat system;

all regulated
filled to overcapacity
to saturate her tissues
with life-preserving elements
just long enough
to enter hospice,
where it's a little nicer to die than
here overlooking a parking lot
and thunderheads
from the top floor
no one wants
to pass by the terminal
elderly on their way
to visit their
recovering
kin.

It's time's falling quarter rainbow
––in a fading daguerreotype––
a piebald horse leaping from a whitewashed
platform under wet skies
while a street orchestra
blasts its horns drunkenly,
to the tune of Bachhus' suicide,
and sounds like watching a rocket fall
on a child in a gods-forsaken desert,
and emotional stability
approaches Ø. But the horror
of it stays behind the eyes
out of lips' reach.

Her hand is still warm
I grasp it to make my goodbyes
at the end of visiting hours the sun
sets temporarily while the solstice approaches
she smiles so sweetly that I can't help but fly
away inside while my face cracks and cleaves.
My eyes convey happiness in seeing her
before I laid eyes that wax simulacrum
recumbent in a ponderously floating box
on its way downstream into
black northern soil where the giants live
and her husband waits with a cigarette.

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