Author’s Note: “Watching my mother’s life move toward its vanishing point, some part of me was drawn to that unknowable place. Language was difficult for her; I tried to supply the necessary and the loving words. Nothing was happening in that sick room, everything was happening. Although much communication was of the silent kind, but I understood that she was traveling back into her own childhood. She offered up a few words. I translated what I could.”
Let me go with her, portage some lighter questions
along the staged waterways.
Talk-house birds flit among reticulated pines
over debris left behind by mowers. Smoke figures rise.
Fields were long ago segmented
into canvases splashed by dusty streams of traffic.
In speech, I mean when there is speech,
wires lattice the blown roses.
Or the syllables are pale, cool marbles
settling at the bottom of a cup.
One arm curves away from her body
while her head tries the neck’s fine stem.
A composition that suffers little change—
white blinds drawn, heart machine quiet. The loss lingering.
Only my restlessness moves shadows,
and the orderly with his mop. How to simply hold.
With each fragment, she knocks upon
a grooved post. The tea is cold
with a skin of ersatz, I drink a bit guiltily
but cannot taste what’s beyond the saline fear.
If there is nothing to be done, why am I here.
Because the doing, the being, makes food for the un-tongued,
because here I forget the other textures, odors,
latching on for the watery blue milk.
Imagine an artificial moon
easing across silk, wind ballooning
a cutout tree’s canopy. Or let me trespass upon sleep
that erases all background with its remote urgencies—
I am parentheses to her shallow breaths,
and the alphabet of stars that shines unread.
Accident by which verbs and cells collide,
map the sparse archipelago, toward a vanishing point.
Carol Alexander’s most recent poetry collection is Fever and Bone. Her individual poems have appeared in About Place Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, The Common, Denver Quarterly, One, Ruminate, Southern Humanities Review, Terrain.org, and Third Wednesday. Forthcoming publications include Free State Review, Matter, Potomac Review, Verdad, and The Westchester Review. Alexander co-edited Stronger Than Fear: Poems of Empowerment, Compassion, and Social Justice (Cave Moon Press, 2022).
Her poem in the Delmarva Review is from the fifteenth annual edition. The literary review, based in Talbot County, Maryland, has featured the new poetry and prose of 550 authors worldwide. Almost half are from the Chesapeake and Delmarva region.
The sixteenth edition will be published later this month in paperback and digital editions. Support comes from tax-deductible contributions and a grant from Talbot Arts with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: www.DelmarvaReview.org