Star tissue . . . makes up the universe. Old wounds torn open, crafted
carousels of stars unraveling at lightspeed through spacetime.

—Marc Alan Di Martino, “Star Tissue”

Eastern Shore, Maryland

I. Driving to See My Mother Alive for the Last Time

The sky is tatters and rags over Delmarva’s
wide, flat fields where autumn geese whirl
down into the corn stubble next to Route 50.
Hard north wind tears what’s left off oaks
and poplar trees. Creeks swell like hematomas
after last night’s storm. Rain lingers in gusts
like spittle. I am driving to see my mother
alive for the last time. I think of the things I
will not say but harbor behind my teeth, sparing
her the brunt of a hurricane of words, a bomb
cyclone of hurt four decades in the forming.
Ages have passed since she cast herself off,
drifting further toward the horizon over tides
and years, expecting me to bridge the distance
each time, my obligation to meet her at each new
port where she dropped anchor. I dig deep for an act
of grace for the undeserving, umbrage lingering
in the air like the odor of marsh rot. Mashing
the accelerator across Nanticoke’s wetland
shallows battered by the icy gale, I point into
a familiar squall that, by now, I’ve learned
to navigate like a seasoned waterman. Heeling
in crosswinds reaching across my beam, tacking
through headwinds, I pray for the direction
to shift, to square the yards and fill my sails,
for following seas to carry me to calmer shores.

II. Confessional
People on couch
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