Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 124 in September, 2010.
While my father’s visiting his mother one last time,
mine, left home, is weaving a shell of busyness. Even from here,
I can help, our daily phone calls help. Leaving jars the dogs
from slumber every morning. Every night is spent in town—
she plays the recorder with friends. Or walks briskly into theatres alone.
Wakefulness is a purse of artifacts—tickets, sheet music.
Their hours scarcely overlap but if she waits
late enough, he sometimes calls from his island of mist,
from his hour of calm before his mother and siblings
wake up and start fueling their diseases.
My mother’s almost sleeping now.
Sleep will turn the day’s events to an hourglass’s sand,
pieces of the day too small to remember intact
that kept it from going unmarked. She’ll remember tonight
she saw Jane Goodall speak in the steady, competent voice
that lulled everyone to sleep in the auditorium.
She’ll remember what was spoken of: life spent in the midst
of necessary others, having halfway chosen such alliances.