We lie together quietly
in our big boat of a bed.
His toenail, kneecap, hipbone,
the warm, wet tang of him.
The familiar soft spell
of his voice. Now that I’ve seen death,
I don’t know how anyone
can think there’s a God.
I see what he is seeing:
the final clench of jaw, the last
mute struggle, the leak of colour
starting at the hairline.
The way the lips fall open,
dumb. The nurse tucks a rolled cloth
beneath the chin to close the mouth.
We’re machines, we break down.
Nothing more. Nothing else.
I remember her body
just after – shrunk,
the skin a new skin,
cold and slack as a white sail
on a windless day.
Something had gone. Though we can’t
see the breeze, we know when
it stops blowing. Something had gone.
I only want to know what it was.
for Edward Hopper, American artist, 1882-1967
Sad, restless creature, this city –
never knows when to stop talking.
Turns the night brittle with cheap
bangles of light, the stink of gasoline,
pink cologne. Cha-cha music
braided with crap radio hiss.
Between hot pavement and hard, starless sky,
windows – rows of bright rectangles.
Framed in these,
the city’s hostages.
Sleek winged things sleeved in blunted flesh.
Each has sore feet, bowed head,
hands that reach for newspapers, keyboards,
We see them when we look up,
glimpse them in ritual,
blessing themselves by brushing their teeth,
boiling the kettle. Haloed
by laptop light, oracled
by weathermen, prayed for
by talk show hosts, tested
by alarm clocks and empty beds.
Each of God’s reflections
turning out the light.
Copyright © Susan Millar DuMars 2013