Quartet for my daughter

Quartet for my daughter
 
 

I.

 

Humming room

tube twists of plastic carry

            false pink of new blood

            the lie of another promise.

 

Eyes open round to compass the midnight crisis.

Inch long black hairs comma the white sheet.

No blue milk taste on lips or tongue. No tears

fall on falling lashes.

 

Muscles starve for oxygen.

Fingers unfist, swell, open.

Skin peels back

          fiery flesh

          too fragile to contain.

 

         Through roughened surface,

         the bloody serum

         seeps through blistered layers.

 

Breaths frail. Thread-thin muscles

do not lift the three inch ribs.

 

Cries whimper to silence.

 

White box, blue dress —

            less than one square yard of cotton to keep

            the brown dirt at bay.

 

Rotted together now.

Dirt. Dress. Girl.

 

II.

 

Quiet room

dark table with fat legs

box big enough

to hold a family’s picnic

standing in sunshine

speechless.

 

Hearts beat strong. Lungs

breathe

 

air you will never need. Brothers

cannot remember

your disappeared face.

 

My beloved we are silent.

 

 

III.

 

With no other proof but memory exists

 

that moon blue eye.

 

Black curl creeps over the edge of an ear.

 

Smile commits nothing more — or less —

 

than this moment

 

Trust an untrustworthy future.

 

 

IV.

 

struggle, resist, gasp

to leave, defy necessity

renitent want of life

 

mouth forms an O, tastes air,

eyes close, see only a long-ago face

skin tight over bone, wrinkleless,

 

radiant life-light pours out into air

illuminates the passage

 

 

pyre’s smoke steams to blue sky

portioned

to clouds

to measure small air

to rain

 

wash shards and ash of bone

together

sink in earth

feed trees

 

return quaking yellow

 

tremble on our still faces