First Third

by Phil Lane
This morning,
after dawn breaks
like the amniotic
crash, you awake
in the afterbirth,
derelict of duty,
no teeth at your bosom,
the facts still in your eyes
like sleep, your hands
still heavy as sandbags,
and useless now.
This morning,
Did you scream his name
into the void?
Did you go through
the motions of mourning:
the screaming, squalid
swoon, the shock?
Did paralysis grip you
like agoraphobia,
like yellow wallpaper,
white jackets?
This morning,
you told me
about the mammogram:
no cancer this time
except the one called
loss; from some
big casino,
he still calls you crazy,
still sucks at you
like a needle at a vein.
But that morning,
a phone ringing:
death’s shotgun salvo;
That morning,
A rosary:
death’s rattle;
A hearse:
death’s baby carriage.
This morning,
it is what it is-es and
such is life-s collected
like condolences,
the icebox full, the mailbox,
the pinebox you helped
build: symmetrical
as a cradle;
unfair as a miscarriage,
and imperfect
as a mother’s love.
This morning,
blackbirds swirling
in the dead of dawn,
magpies, ravens
alighting on dead trees.
the ethereal epiphany
of what you learn
from one-third of you
having died—

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