Dying is something she thinks about
more and more. That and growing old.
She told me earlier on the telephone
how my mother had taken away her broom
to keep her from sweeping the sidewalk,
hanging it next to our garden hose
and the leg that my grandfather never got to use.
You can call me beautiful all you want
she says, to no one in particular, brushing
visions from in front of her face
that resembled both cobweb and veil.
In her dreams she can make out the voices
of those keeping watch on the shore.

Once she’d bent over a drainpipe
listening for the bird trapped inside it.
Overhead the clouds were wrung of their rain.
And the sky spoke in whispers. She took to these
less than the constant auguries of her daughter.
Even when slumped against the front door
with a jumble of keys in her hand.
Each night before going to sleep
she kisses her finger and then touches it
to a photograph of her husband always telling him
how she misses his hand taking her hand,
those dances that ended with eyes closed,
and how she isn’t quite ready to see him just yet.

Mark DeCarteret's work has appeared in the anthologies American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon Press, 2000) and Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader 1988-1998 (Black Sparrow Press, 2000). His latest chapbook The Great Apology was published a few years back by Oyster River Press for which he also co-edited the anthology Under the Legislature of Stars: 62 New Hampshire Poets.

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761