A supplicant stands at the kitchen basin.
Hands cradle warm, fragrant fruit.
Fingers skim velveteen surface.
Knife slips between skin and flesh,
flashes silver edges. On the longitude,
she inserts the blade. Parts the mesocarp.
Reveals a gnarled seed.
With a flick, the pit tumbles. Leaves a rosy
depression into which her thumb slides.
White teeth bite into yellow flesh. Stored sunshine
melts on her tongue. Rivulets of moisture trickle
arms, baptize chin and seal her to the moment.
I practice the art of porch sitting,
with my exposed heart outside my ribs
while black banded wood storks
glide to arboreal landings.
The folding of their wings catches me
tucks me into their bird-boned bodies,
integrates me to feathers.
Wind shifts, branches quaver.
A bird startles. Releases
me into the humid, fecund air.
I gentle down into my rocker,
as my heart beats from the exertion.
Your lips are eloquent
As they touch mine
Speak to me wordless
Lines of love
To be absorbed through
Skin. I feel the sharp
Points of your mustache
Scrape my philtrum
Prick my heart and cause
It to open as water cascades
From my eyes.
At August’s close,
the heat has worn
all of the greens
out of the leaves.
Maples are gold.
The wind sings in pines
whose lush needles
no longer glint bright
with the sun.
Here is the beginning of fall
when the cotton plants show white,
yellow butterflies float among them
while the sky is a dull blue.
Where the earth is as rumpled as
our morning bed with the covers
flung in all directions,
Where the sky fills the horizon
scribed to the curves of ancient
hills tufted with oak and poplar,
This is where my heart beats in time to
an imperceptible rhythm.
My lungs fully exhale to inspire
forest scents of musk and green.
My mountains. Appalachians.
Ancient. Enduring. Home.
May nights are a conjugation
of old scents. Magnolia. Jasmine. Gardenia.
Hunkered in darkness, they jump up,
Buss you on the lips and keep
their own counsel, as a favorite grandmother would.
All lace and grey hair, last century style.
Nature listens to no one. Prefers old school.
And though I don’t need to approve, I do
relishing her timeless scents.
This small room holds more
Life than I can understand.
Her body rumbles.
An odd sibilance
fills my ears with drones
and soon to come death.
Not sleep. Not coma.
Surely not life.
A pall spreads within
my heart’s chambers
As I know she is not
long for this world.
You sleep on a cot
your breath even
though sometimes you snore,
mimic her rattle and hum.
For a moment you, her child,
breathe in unison with her.
Your life in communion
with hers as it was when you
were born fifty nine years ago.
Bereft, I alone witness
your corporeal union
Just as I alone witness it’s
cessation at her last breath.
For Maureen, who left us on Saturday, May 17. Thank you for your life, and your son who is my love.