Hospice, The Villa Marie
for my mother
Welcome shade of the locust tree on the last good day.
Ignore hum of a vacuum scourging dust. Sisters shadow the walk
while Mary with her rosary keeps bees idling by blue hollyhocks.
We woke today in hope, to find your spoon untouched in the water glass
with its cloudy scum. A dying body, says the nurse, is not a hungry body.
Still, there is this urge to feed, the patient industry of the bee.
Here were once rich farms, and somewhere still are horses
heavy-eyed and blue, their great hearts resting, riders thrown.
What's left to do, but fumble with your oxygen tube, fix your chair?
It's promised you will have no pain, that the fertile locust tree
disperse the heat of a late-summer day, that we have our time.
I've never known your truce with the life to come.
The chaplain spoke of immortality of soul, not of its tough, fibrous core.
Yet, there is the endless mantra of cicadas waking
from their seventeen-years' sleep, and a swallow creasing air.
Evening comes to sigh for you, its gossip riffling through the trees.
Breaths drawn out, day pulls in, a sea wall with its mumbled undertow.
My eye parses a family of deer at dusk. You'll have to take them on faith
the same way I, who cannot stand last things, remember birth
while the morphine steals you to the shades, and the doctor says, watch.
Carol Alexander's poems have appeared in such journals as Bluestem, Canary, The Common, Chiron Review, Illya's Honey, Mad Hat Lit, Mobius, Poetry Quarterly, Poetrybay, Red River Review, The San Pedro River Review, Sugar Mule and Zymbol, as well as in various anthologies including Through a Distant Lens (WriteWing Publishing) for which she received the award for best poem, and Proud to Be, for which she was a poetry finalist. Her work has twice been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Alexander's chapbook, Bridal Veil Falls, was published by Flutter Press (2013). Forthcoming work is scheduled to appear in Caesura (Poetry Center San Jose), Poetica, The San Diego Poetry Annual, Clementine Poetry Journal, and Whiskeyfish Review (2015).