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When I said I’d done all I could, I lied.
All those unanswered birthday cards,
all the unthanked lottery tickets,
the $5 bills offered when your floor
was caving in on itself,
I offered close to nothing.
And so that last ditch effort of mine
as you lay there on that ICU bed
was the most I could do in that moment,
my body willing me to the floor,
and my mind willing it upright,
so I could say, Thank you, Susan;
We love you, Susan.
We will carry on the tradition
for your grandbabies, Susan,
and they will know luck too.
Susan, what I wanted to say,
what I should have said, is
You are too good; You are the best
of all of us. Your love came
with aftershocks, the kind that spreads
its warmth beyond your own beloveds
to those in their orbit. You always believed
things were gonna turn around.
Minutes after a phone call told me
you had gone, the sky opened
and began to hail. I rushed to my car
and could hear your gravelly laugh,
full of mirth, as I slammed the door
to the pelting ice and began to cry.
I don’t know how much luck I’ve had
in this life, Susan. But when your heart
gave out today, I knew it must have been
from overuse—and what luck
to have been one of its recipients.
My burning gives you satisfaction
I know how you are
You think you can break me
without earning this sweetness
My love asks permission
applies his flame to my custard
singes me with wanting
I give him every spoonful
The ocean will not swallow your heart
The past is always behind you
Starlight is filled with dying
The animals can’t know our sadness
There is only this life
Our bodies are enough to carry us
The boats have plenty of room
There is nothing to worry about
It’s just a little heat
Humanity will get us through
Look at them there, springing
on their little tendrils that some
are silly enough to call stems,
green wheeling mouths gaping
in wonder, gulping streams
of sunlight, forming such a lush,
wafer-thin tapestry, strong enough
to hold but a few grains of rice.
The aliens wouldn’t know what
to do with such a gift, this bewildering
spectacle of leaves with eyes like
their children (that taste faintly
like pepper) and bright orange
blossoms like their beloved
pogwallows. But here we are,
kids. Wonder of wonders.