Clear Water

/ /

In the mirror universe where time runs backward,
The one that physicists tell us may exist,
You are becoming younger every minute,
Watch spinning counterclockwise on your wrist.

You throw the covers back like Lazarus.
Rogue cells re-differentiate and shrink;
The lurid crimson drug that burned your veins
Flows back into the bag; your cheeks grow pink.

Now you’re Penelope, pulling yarn from needles,
Now a young mother with a game-day smile,
Freeing four squirming girls from matching outfits,
Scattering toys, dirtying bathroom tile;

Later the slender bride in cat’s-eye glasses,
Then the new physics teacher, then the rain
The day of the picnic where you met our father
Evaporates, becoming clouds again

That roll away, and leave you in the shelter
With other friends while he, forgetting love,
Unsees the girl he knew at once he’d marry
And backs out, putting on his baseball glove.

We’re strangers to you now. Before much longer
You’ll be a schoolgirl climbing from the bus,
Undoing homework at the kitchen table,
All innocent of cancer and of us,

Filling the trees with fireflies with your cousins,
Swept backward on your bike, with windblown hair,
Unpicking morning glories by the river
That winds from Lake Wissota through Eau Claire.