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"OH WATERS, TEEM WITH MEDICINE TO KEEP MY BODY SAFE FROM HARM, SO THAT I MAY LONG SEE THE SUN." - Rig Veda
She is here, and then she isn’t.
Morphine dripped, hearing bells in the air,
angels in the hallways, how a grown woman
becomes small—a baby bird with fledgling
wings and hungry eyes. If only I could lift her, carry
her to the bath, pour a silver pitcher of warm
water over her skin so she could feel
the last pleasure still left in the body.
But she is already gone to the fluid world
where history is a map; where she can point her finger
at any destination and simply arrive—now twelve,
now thirty-five just before the lithium stole the highs
as well as the lows, now sixty grasping
at her flat-stitched chest for what has been taken.
She mines the cross-sections, each face
a whirl of color, a bending voice turning over
and over like a leaf on the wind.
I know this is the last time—that the morphine
will drip her over the edge into a place
where the caustic burning of the body subsides.
Before I leave, I trace my imprint
in her sheets, the slight pressure of a lifetime
in space before the edges rush in, making
equal the star and the seed and the woman.