Today's poem is by Nadine Sabra Meyer


At the end of the hall, where my mother's room glows like an incubator,
            The night nurse, who, all last night watched TV

And drank soda after soda, her feet propped up, this morning
            Has drawn up a chair to study my mother's features, this woman

Who's seen hundreds shake in a dance of death, "terminal
            Agitation" it's called, then go root quiet,

A bulb beneath the bright lights of heaven,
            This woman whose son rose to the surface of the pool

In the cracked half-life of her dawn, his robe prostrate on the deck,
            She enters a cold and silvery knife each morning,

And each night she enters the rooms of the dying
            As if to see, with their kiln bright eyes, into both worlds:

Her son again, the glistening shape of him on the diving board
            In the candled dark, his shockingly muscled thighs strobing

The night pool . . . and I, in my urgency and my panic, ask
            What, in her expert's gaze, she sees—

The blue undertone of a minor chord drawn through the delicate bones
            Of my mother's face, a new stiffening of the living instrument's frame—

But she says simply, She's drawing pretty bad now, and I decide
            Breath, she means my mother's breath,

Her chin thrown back in oxygen need,
            Her skin sunk to the hourglass of bones, my mother clinging

To everything she knew, every blessing she'd been given,
            Her six children circling the bed in vigil, in prayer old

As death itself, as though all these years came down to this: an orchestra of syringes,
            Vials, masks and breathing treatment,

The lifting and lowering of our stiffening mother, we the shifting constellations
Around a vanishing center.

Copyright © 2017 Nadine Sabra Meyer All rights reserved
from Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum
New Issues Poetry & Prose
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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