Shawn Brownlee CC
Aubade with Limited Visibility
I wake worrying about dying, about my husband
dying: who will die first, how and when; I worry
about our only child going on without us, perhaps
alone. My husband announces there is a heavy fog.
Open the blinds, I ask, I want to see what I can’t see.
When my mother decided to die, she closed one eye.
The other remained open. The open eye revealed
nothing. At times I thought I could make out a kind
of language through the crepey lid of the closed eye,
the way the eye fluttered behind it, the way the capillaries
pulsed. Our eyes, through fog, begin to discern shapes.
A shape is a thing, darkened: car, tree, building...
Its outer edges only, which can be perceived
as something entirely different from the thing itself.
When I stroked my mother’s hair, her closed eye
moved back and forth. When I sponged her mouth
with water, she gripped the sponge in her teeth.
I understood the eye’s movement as love, or Thanks,
but what if it was Stop. What if my touch was
agonizing to her. I took her biting the sponge as thirst,
but what if it was simply reflex, nothing more.
The deodar cedar’s silhouette emerges through the haze,
the arms from the trunk thrusting out and curling up
in opposite directions. The tree is two people, back
to back. How two people move away from each other
while still touching. Then the fog clears, and it is
simply a tree. Out of the silence a car starts its engine.
The banality of this terrifies me. I don’t want anyone to die alone.
Elisabeth Adwin Edwards’s poems have appeared in The Tampa Review, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, A-Minor Magazine, and elsewhere; her prose has been published in Hobart, CutBank, On The Seawall, and other journals. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize. A native of Massachusetts, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and teen daughter in an apartment filled with books.
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