A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Naked you were luminous and all my cells
photographed you, stayed with me all these years.
But there was a shadow to that beauty.
When we are older we acquire it as Thanatos,
the reminder, steps out into the light.
Doug Anderson, Eulogy
I now know the photography
of my own cells, their very attention
upon your face where mere hours ago,
a shadow passed through you—
Thanatos, waiting down the long
Decembers for us.
It had been a calm Saturday but then
for a moment, beyond diversion,
you began stumbling through our
common language; even as my heart
sank, there was an invisible cloying
in one of the veins mapping your head.
Then I saw an angel’s diamond-toed
slipper fall from heaven.
We had been speaking of the languor
of early autumn weather, the banner tails
of the hungry cats. I called the ambulance
and within moments, a flurry of others
in our home, clad in a svelte darkness.
This was but one compressed hour
within arrested day while I hurried,
tightening the brace around my leg,
the frayed back brace I wear
around my hips to stop my spine
from crying out— the cane,
without which I am nothing, the pack
hugging our commingled necessities;
unsure of what might have happened
between then and now,
I flew down the rural road to you.
In my sideways walk I entered the ER,
nearly slumping against a pillar;
a nurse saw me, brought a wheel chair
and then I came into your room–
a bay curtained beneath the brightest
of all lights, a fluorescent sun:
how thin you were beneath
the several flannel blankets
they had brought from the warmer.
I’m fine you said, lifting your head,
reaching for my hand.
But in another room I heard
Weeping; I saw another flurry
of nurses, gulls settling
over a seal carcass, salt-cast
from the mawing sea.
I rose from the chair, hovering
near you; they wanted you to stay,
for more testing and God help me,
I couldn’t let them have you, not yet.
Soon we were in the truck
together, heading back down
the road I have traveled
for many years, road freighted
with the grief of those driving
through rain-flecked twilight
to hemorrhage regret–
to the one Thanatos, the footman,
waits for, in a listing and muddy
carriage– weighted with the sodden cargo
it must let fall into the frigid earth.
How spent, how frail we become,
bending over someone’s stillness,
reciting the litany of those
who pretend to be fearless,
gathering him into our arms.
Copyright 2015 Jenne’ R. Andrews