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My sister says she picks up the phone--
some days, some nights--
is about to call our mother
before she remembers
the long trip to the far cemetery
where Mom rests among gravestones
and Eastern Long Island pines.
Without glancing at it,
I’m hyperaware of the window
at my right at night
as I try to sleep--
the dark rectangular box,
the breeze-breath of the curtain,
the evergreen scent on the wind
being so near.
The Deceased One
Her empty bedroom,
her vacant bed--
as if she’s stepped
into an elevator
then pushed a button,
a raised radiant eye,
a means to flight,
a talisman that’s whisked her
to the highest floor,
a level beyond our reach….
Meanwhile, we’re glued here,
still subjected to icky weather, complexities,
emotions, vexing thoughts, odors, crimes.
Psyched out, frowning,
we glance around, filter, search
before finally accepting
what we already sensed:
she must have ascended,
cushioned on an elevator’s rubber rug,
soft yet supportive
like a simple Raphael cloud,
a singing evolving cloud-puff
going to where a weathervane points:
a horizon too bright for our sight.
Mama hunched over us with spread arms
the way an eagle would stretch its wings
to protect its eggs.
We knelt in our living room,
waiting for careening bombs our mom
predicted with her terrified face,
shallow breathing, rivulets of sweat
dropping from her face,
collecting in her collar bone.
To her, this blackout was a sign
of the madness of humans.
Humans, like ants, were (and would always be)
the only creatures she felt capable
of annihilating their own kind.
That evening, the minutes elongated with doom
while we cringed in our mother’s vision,
we didn’t dare to peek at the sky
where we might glimpse
a mud pit, a ditch, an abyss
instead of the stars.
My tumor was fierce,
massive, like the explosion, devastation,
upheaval that happened in Manhattan
but could be heard by persons on the street,
in parks, on patios, in Central Brooklyn.
People attending an outdoors poetry reading
at a festive outer-borough festival
ducked when the bomb went boom.
I crouched into myself
when I saw my malignant growth on X-ray film,
as if I could protect my kidneys, my glands,
from the beginnings of war,
even as a major battle
loomed closer than my front door.
©Jim Zola: IMG_6273