A photocopy of my mother’s heart,
neatly folded, falls from the leaf end
of Yeats’ Collected.
Her cardiologist has drawn squiggles
and blobs to mark the arteries
blocked: diffuse 80%, 70% plaque,
more squiggles for the bypasses
the heart has patiently grown
to feed its urgent muscle.
The muffled tick
of a ship’s clock on the mantle.
Each of us will have a turn
at this watch, with or without
I’m folding away neat piles:
the scolding that most stung,
butterscotch icing licked from the bowl,
a hairbrush (knick-knack, plate of pasta)
thrown in anger ― the Silence after.
The trunk will be scented: gardenia,
garlic, Chanel #5. Meanwhile,
I collect figs from the garden, whisper
a decade of the Rosary, a Psalm —
the lake at dawn
a red-winged blackbird
rustles the reeds.
Title poem of Meanwhile (2011)
First published in America (2003)