After Closing Up My Mother’s House and Other Poems


After Closing Up My Mother’s House

Last thing, at dusk, I leaned out
the hotel window, like a seal sticking halfway
out of the concave comber it is riding.
To the west, the slopes of land offshore,
violet mist, like isles of the blest
seen by a child of genteel flogging,
and the water looked horizontal, a shining
scale balanced. First thing
in the morning, I leaned to the waist out into the
cold dawn, and rotated east
toward the rim of coastal mountain toothed
with sequoia and pine. And a crow cried out
in heavy vigor as he beat along
the face of the hotel, and when he came to me
he shied, going up on his hind legs
like a rearing stallion. All was in place—
the fitted box of the planet, the tiered
sewing-table town. And when the van rushed me down toward the
tide-flats, the sun came over
the ridge to the east, its traditional direction,
as the parent, most of the time, dies
before the child. We passed the room
where she had breathed her last breath into
my mouth, I could not save it, I do not
know where it is—
not in space, but held, by the weight of our
natal stone, within our homemade
atmosphere. And we passed the cottage
with the cobalt window,
and I muttered what her children had shouted here, Blue
window! Blue window!
Along the runway,
wind poured through the coat of horsetail
fur, and terns, in their skirts, fluttered
above the thumbnail and crochet-hook snails,
and we knock-swashed up, excreting fumes
of carbon fern and marrow—and in
the seat pocket, in front of me, were
crimped, furled buds, stems
bushy with fresh thorns,
and her last flagon of perfume, its glass
dove alighting to seize it, or lifting it up.

This is a premium subscription story. Please make a $4 donation to access the individual story or a $50 donation to access all the stories in Narrative Backstage for a period of one year.

If you are already a user, but not yet logged in, you may login here.
If you are new to Narrative, signing up is FREE and easy.