Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Outside, the streetlights through poplars
are Troy’s towers aflame.
New moon, a welling darkness.
No compass beneath
the cloud-drowned stars.
The mind telling itself
the story of the mind
in the flickering chambers
of the once-splendid banquet hall
of her foundering brain.
Memory unscrolls, summoning
all the storied heroes and heroines—
their noble exploits
and humdrum mornings—
each one appearing for a moment,
bright as beaten gold.
Impossible to separate what she’s lived
from what she’s dreamed.
Daughters in hospital gowns
sacrificed to calm their fathers’ seas.
The rubble of broken armies
scattered along desolate shores
like dead bees she found shoaling beneath the attic window.
Lost now in the labyrinthine mind,
she finds no shackled monster
crouching in the shadows,
no prize to win nor
long-sought godly favor.
She sees only a small skiff
waiting on a fortunate tide
and nothing to detain her any longer.
“Water,” she says, a hoarse whisper—
the first word uttered
since the coma claimed her.
The family scrambles; her son
fills a plastic cup and
brings it to her dusky lips.
She doesn’t drink.
There is no horizon now to separate
the night sky from those open waters.
The wind is freshening and already
the first white swells are breaking
across the blade of her dipping prow.  

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