This is the season of her dying, and you
have kept it, I find, underneath the stairs
in a box filled with photographs—her daybook
of that last year, the calendar a narrative
she did not intend to write. In the grid
of days, I see her habit had been to record
in pencil what might be erased, moved, saving
the indelible black for what could not change:
your birthday, hers, your anniversary. And in
that same decisive hand, the disease began
to eclipse this order, but she erased nothing.
Now from beneath the days the hospital claimed,
her first, latent words emerge, faint but certain
as images of ribs cradling milky lungs, the flesh forgotten
as water you can see through to the bottom.
By Claudia Emerson
Recipient of the 2007 Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize
Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press
from Late Wife: Poems by Claudia Emerson.
Copyright © 2005 by Claudia Emerson.