Prediction / Closing the Circle.
The world might end in crispness
like a smack on the bottom at birth.
A division of the skin or fascia at autopsy.
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The closing of doors, the departure
of planes. Endings without confetti.
An unpedaled note on a harpsichord.
I think the world will end in Houston.
Mold, an extrusion of hyphae on formica.
Accretion of residues and gels. As a mollusk.
Even aluminum will rust. Small animals
will decompose, ferns will grow, pterodactyls
will fly, thick as the day the world began.
(From A History of the Sweetness of the World, Texas Review Press, 1995)
Closing the Circle
My father dies in April.
I fly back to Pittsburgh,
put on gloves and gown,
and choose the method of Virchow,
examining first the lungs,
then the heart and vessels.
Respirator oxygen has chewed
alveoli to newsprint.
Specks of pigment testify
he was an urban dweller, a smoker.
Variegations suggest pneumonia,
bronchopneumonia, opportunistic fungi.
Pocks mark his emphysema.
I hold my father's heart,
hold it the way he and his father
held the sweet loaf of renewal
at the Jewish New Year.
Currants, raisins, a thick glaze
over the flesh. The roundness
closing the circle of the year.
To the white, fibrous scar
I say, blossoming pear.
To the yellow, red-rimmed lesion,
hibiscus. I have tried.
To his tissues that are no longer flesh
I say nothing. My father's body
is the cry of a water bird
moving across the current.
(From Praising with My Body, Thorn Books, 1992)
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