Who can say what prompted the drive?
5 o’clock. The Turnpike. A Friday night.
Tailing a snowplow across the state,
plowing home through a blizzard.
By the time I arrived she was almost in bed.
Her hug embracing my heavy coat.
That hint of Chanel No. 5.
At the edge of the blind a streetlamp’s glow–
its peach-tinted scrim smoothed years from her face.
We talked until late.
She recalled how her mother saved special treats–
not for her or sister Claire.
For Joe, she explained,
and whispered It wasn’t fair.
The following morning we found her unconscious.
The calls. Hospital. Ambulance.
They took her away in lavender blankets,
snow piled high as the fence.
My hand through the bars on a cloistered bed,
all day tethered her to us.
Such peaceful breathing, untroubled-
some rest and we’d take her home.
It was nearly dark when I thought to ask
the doctor on call, How’s she doing?
Black medical eyes stared me down.
He barked: Your mother is dying!
Towering androgyne, edges of white,
Fills a fluorescent corridor:
Your mother is dead!
Commander-in-chief of Intensive Care:
Someone get her a chair.
And a chair for the father!
Do you want a Coke?
Nurse with no face:
Linoleum lifts at the end of the hall
waves at me in slow motion.
I’m floating in acid green light,
Chagall in love.
But no daisies,
cathedral, pink violins.
Institutional tile, ceramic,
shining and white.
I’m climbing the warped linoleum,
the long bilious path
to a phone booth.
Made of wood.