How It Began and Other Poems


How It Began

I will try to tell you how it was for me.
I can’t know how it was for her.
She called. Her voice was bruised
with fear. Before that, there were signs,
but we didn’t know they were signs.
I was sitting on a blue couch
a few hundred miles from home.
I held a cup of tea. She told me
she’d jolted awake with her heart stampeding.
No, she would have said pounding. Or maybe
racing. What people say. I knew
how to help her breathe. I breathed
with her, deep, slow inhale and
long, longer exhale. I focused on that.
Oh, honey, I said, you don’t want
to go there. Let’s turn this around.
But I’ve always believed too much
in my own will. I knew.
And didn’t know.
Or didn’t want to know I knew.
Though I could feel the floor’s slight pitch.
We were in for a long, long voyage
without a chance to grab even
an orange or comb my hair.

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