Were they tall terns? Or meant to be herons?
Lined along the sill of your big bay window,
the small wooden birds your hard hands carved
as Christmas gifts for a dozen children,
Those were the hours, infected,
we were aware of her body, the fever
wringing out the cloth of her, the sheets
a witness. This was a skirmish
in a war of attrition
Can’t find my shoes. Forget
them. Torn sheet? Forget that. The soft quilt drifts,
my cast-off reading glasses tilt sideways—
slippery sheet, blind glasses, orphan shoes:
a stage for drunken love though I’m sober.
The truth is I will never again see the mother
I know, the one always halfway through
four different books, or making the light
on the water perfect in her pastel landscapes.
Soft light lands and pops
on your clavicles
like soap bubbles.
The restoration crew comes and goes
like field medics
Her heart two-steps, now flesh, now metaphor,
while her mind—the brain when it blushes—
gently nets a halo: thought bubbles and unlit bulbs.
I liked the idea that I could make it go away
with words, but ultimately, they would find
nothing because I never wrote.
Instead, he finds the cardinal, drop of blood
flitting through the leaves, dancing where
the light moves a hand as it breaks here,
breaks there, casts shadow against ashen bark.