lay under the florescent light,
below the blinking murmur
of monitors, stunning and naked
despite the cancer and her age.
Her body under wild hands –
doctors and residents, pretending
to know how to resuscitate. I am
dumb. I could not fathom
her collapse, could not remember
her last name in the ER. Did she go
by her maiden or married name?
Couldn’t recall the exact year
of her birth, pissing off the on-call
nurse – incompetent daughter.
Though I could recall the precise
details, what I saw when I found her –
curled in a ball, bald, in her neon
robe, sharp against the beige carpet
and white and gray walls – gasping.
In a pool of deep maroon, dark as
Bordeaux, she moved like a heart.
I could not unsee it – until
doctors said to unsee it, to turn
what I knew into something new,
into a black and white photograph,
something faded, or on a TV screen.
How could I unsmell the mix of her
river and rich earth, unhear
the sound, the deepest lowest
forever Om, the erasure of knowing.