Well, it was just as I thought,
all but obliterated—
We had moved then
from the first to the second stage,
from the dream to the proposition.
here is the line between,
this line from which our words emerge:
moonlight breaks through.
Shadows on the snow
cast by pine trees.
Say good-bye to standing up,
my sister said. We were sitting on our favorite bench
outside the common room, having
a glass of gin without ice.
Looked a lot like water, so the nurses
smiled at you as they passed,
pleased with how hydrated you were becoming.
Inside the common room, the advanced cases
were watching television under a sign that said
Welcome to Happy Hour.
If you can’t read, my sister said,
can you be happy?
We were having a fine old time getting old,
everything hunky-dory as the nurses said,
though you could tell
snow was beginning to fall,
not fall exactly, more like weave side to side
sliding around in the sky—
Now we are home, my mother said;
before, we were at Aunt Posy’s.
And between, in the car, the Pontiac,
driving from Hewlett to Woodmere.
You children, my mother said, must sleep
as much as possible. Lights
were shining in the trees:
those are the stars, my mother said.
Then I was in my bed. How could the stars be there
when there were no trees?
On the ceiling, silly, that’s where they were.
I must say
I was very tired walking along the road,
very tired—I put my hat on a snowbank.
Even then I was not light enough,
my body a burden to me.
Along the path, there were
things that had died along the way—
lumps of snow,
that’s what they were—
The wind blew. Nights I could see
shadows of the pines, the moon
was that bright.
Every hour or so my friend turned to wave at me
or I believed she did, though
the dark obscured her.
Still her presence sustained me:
some of you will know what I mean.