Morning Light: a Counselor On 4-South Speaks
No, I don’t think the woman in this solitary
painting by Edward Hopper has just lost her baby.
She gazes out her window, as if she knew
cold sunlight is her only child. Perhaps,
the trip she plans to take to her brook, a sunless
meadow, is one she won’t return from. A choice
like seven extra months to live, but no sun.
She sings no gauzy arias, faces down
the fish-back clouds out her bright window.
Her aches and obligations—no regrets
for trips she never took to East Hyannis,
for lids of Mason jars that came unscrewed,
for dot.com doctors in their crimson RAV4’s.
Her Noels have always been for strangers,
distant kin who’ve come to learn
as she has, how to love, if not themselves,
then stone arches, certain wells that never
were empty. Her white slip elicits no longing
but this wish to know how tomorrow’s
guardians may bless her as yet unravaged face.
As the woman leans toward her window,
knees drawn up on her bed, I recall last night’s dream.
My reclusive sister got married at 4-South
She had been a patient there; she knew the charge nurse,
Dee. We don’t know my sister’s diagnosis.
There was a wedding cake, a plaque on a wall,
a book. I called my sister Chloe. Had she read
my poems, knew why I changed her name?
We hugged. I missed you, I said; I know,
she said. I turned our embrace to a sideways hug.
She was getting married to my old friend’s brother.
This must have happened when we were young,
or will happen when our quarantine of flesh
is done. I knew how I would end my book
when this is over.
Sunlight on one corner of my laptop,
gray dust in swatches on my window pane.
We say wind lifts fir branches. G-d’s in the details,
not the devil, said my sister. Maybe things,
at least some things are meant to be,
Beshmert, the word in Hebrew.
When a brown-tailed deer pauses
by our goat shed, I picture Chloe,
how she lived years in her Travelodge
near I-5, so she could make quick getaways
from chickadees too chatty, crows too scornful,
streets too black; certain German Shepherds
in disguise. Yes, this world’s a disguise--
terrifying, beautiful, true.
Richard Widerkehr: "My new book, At The Grace Cafe, is now available from Main Street Rag Press. Recent poems appear in Open: A Journal of Arts & Letters, Door Is A Jar, Off The Coast, and The Atlanta Review."
The Ekphrastic Review
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