THE WINTER HER CANCER RETURNS
I begin with what I can’t let go. The bruised morning.
The breakwater full of ruin. Think of her - the beautiful
moon receding. What a long dark scarf she's tied me to,
here, across this country. The space a grave makes.
My dad recounts all the lives he tried to save,
a friend returned from Vietnam, his mother
after ninety. I tell him the earth slows
because of its own tides. His muscles ache
unused to the weight he is giving them.
My seven year old brother explains air pollution
to the boy next door, says it gets inside us-
the only way to make it leave is to put water
in your mouth, over and over, then spit it out.
I know what I should not say.
Even the most dedicated child must leave
the frozen fort, and celebrate when spring
unfolds. Still. I remember the cold, the incessant
pushing there on our knees, snow that would
not stick, but fell gently into drifts beside us.
I find myself at this gate. The moon has no
weather we are used to. She puts on her clean
white robe. She is the whitest owl, night
inside her beak. My words have fallen out.
I wish we had been lied to.