Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Her First

Dorianne Laux
from Facts about the Moon

Who remembers what she told me.
The year.  What actually happened.
Which hospital. My mother.  The man
who died in her arms.  Gone from memory.
Only that he was her first.  Only my mother
in her uniform, white, unblemished
or stippled with blood.  And his eyes.
The hand she held as he held on.
Long enough to say the wordless thing
that needed saying.  Her eyes answering,
then speaking aloud the only words
that could be said:  It’s alright, I’m here,
Okay.  Her telling me how she held on,
never looked away, ushered his soul
into the unknown with a handful
of words, a direct gaze, almost visible,
almost a color, a cone of warmer air
shimmering between them in the bleach-
scented room, a thin stream of Muzak
blushing through the speakers
in the hallway outside the open door,
the slick canted floor they would
gurney him down on tiny rubber wheels,
that oiled, spun freely, easily,
as they turned the corner
toward the morgue, the institutional
gray walls not, thank god, the last color
he would see but the sea-blue corona
of her eyes, irises spiked with amber,
flecked with green.  Fully open
and seeing him.  Whoever he was.
Whoever he had harmed or helped,
loved or failed to love, finally, mercifully,
of no importance now as she watched over
the last minutes of his anonymous life.
His large death fluttering down
under the soft black wings of his lashes
as he left this sweet, brief world
and entered into the next, hand
in hand with a godless woman
who would always remember him.
His rust-colored eyes saying
good-bye to her, to this life, in a time
I remember now.

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