What doesn’t change pecks
the dark note of wildlife, lives untamed
in spite of domestic appearances:
Mother declines in her blue chair,

the den her sickroom, blinds drawn,
bucket in easy reach.
Can I get you anything?
rhetorical song, endless codas.

I fill her mantle vase, my gift from Spain,
with fresh morning glories,
white foxglove.
What do the dying need?

Presence of the ones who won’t leave
as the pail fills, who won’t shrink
from crumpled hands over a face,
who still ask and ask and ask.

None of this lights her room.
My movement is detail,
either coming or going.
Her expeditions into pain

persevere as the afternoon
slats through her window,
lines of thin cracks
shading yellowed hair.