Death Long Distance by Bonnie Arning
The night you died I tried to find a sign
of your passing. Something obvious:
dry leaves swept up in a dust devil, a spider
the red of your hair. It was you
who taught me to make a bird by hooking my thumbs
and inching apart my fingers. Fitting then,
how your doctor should use that motion
to mimic the tumor as it swooped across your back.
We sent you to die twelve-hundred miles from
your stone bird bath and the chiropractor
who never left his wife for you, hooked
to a mechanical bed scribbling journal entries like,
today I ate an apple and felt my hair sprouts
shift and glow. I should have called—I should have
asked a nurse to hold the phone to your ear
while I sang shantih shantih shantih in a soft voice.
Why didn’t I have the courage to tell you, death
is no betrayal—die when you want to. The chemo,
the injections, the amputated leg: you did it all
for us. Instead of going to your service
I should draw faces on the foam heads
that hold your wigs. I should draw your face
in eyeliner all over my room. Come back—
the trees here are hungry for your ashes.
Yesterday I glimpsed movement in the milk-fire
of your rough-cut healing crystals. Energy
in the palpitating ribbon of distant heat. Wasps
swarm and ride each wave. You—
swarm and ride each wave.
More art by Francesca Buchko can be found here.
Recommended listening: To be alone with you – Sufjan Stevens
Links of the day: The Transcript of Snatch (Guy Ritchie)