V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





As you were dying, sometimes I went back
To the room to catch a nap or a shower.
I'd click on the television for an hour,
Flip around the channels for lack

Of anything to do but sit by your bed
And watch you breathe and breathe, that motion
Your only language.  Some kinds of devotion
May take more imagination than mine, bred

Of simply wanting you to stay.  Sitting
In front of the screen, watching the chain
Of bubbles rise, tracking the plain
Paths, became a kind of sedative, an unremitting

Way to ease the coming loss.  I knew nearly
Nothing of death, of the way it rings in the numb
Mind, chiming without end, or how some
Of the brain's cells will seize on it, sincerely

And with the strength of the tides.
Channel 7 was its own ocean, a narcotic blue
Square of water, the fish almost washed from view
By the lights behind them, and, near the sides,

The plants pulled and swayed against the water.
Often I imagined the whole hotel, all those sad,
Grieving people, sitting at the edges of their beds,
Staring at the Fish Channel at once.  The water.

The bubbles.  Fish pulsing across the screen.

© by Margot Schilpp


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