Requiem With Remission

— for L

           After the last surgery. After
hearing you wake within the breached levee

           of your whole life. After water-hymn,
as I washed your body’s sutured beauty,

           the stone doubt in both our faces whetted
by cancer. After our child has grasped

           at the warmth in your palm & led you out
to watch a late spring light moving cardinals

           between the Ozark oaks early in this year’s
season of going golden-green. After

           the softness from a song invited me
to ask for a little mercy now—: And when

           this question made of my throat a sieve
that would catch no grief, you kind of found me

           like that, adding the mereness of my tears
to the half-cleaned dishes inside the sink.

           Then the child’s far-off voice returned us
to the bearable shape of our actual sadness:—

           That night, all together in the yard & not
much wind combing through & no firefly

           wonder for our child to waft at, the feared
departure still hovered ghost-close, but for

            an hour or so we couldn’t wander
beyond the gathering we’d dreamt, just yet.

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