False Elegy Beginning with the Moon

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A blurred beam floated face down on the river— crumpled, discarded, daylight’s IOU. From your darkened hospital room this was the view that night the doctors gave you waning odds. The priest gave you last rites, but it wasn’t over, your body defying medicine and God

to make a limited recovery. You lived yet have kept little of what you called your life, a garden still nearby but walled off now from view. In your new home at the home, you struggle with life’s basics day-to-day, needing help to brush your teeth or comb

your hair. Each evening, though, you phone to check how my day’s gone and, when the mundane has been exhausted, pause, before you ask again what happened during the weeks you were “knocked out,” much as a child might question what life was like before her birth, as if knowing what it’s about

were a matter of attendance. I recount those frequent visits to Intensive Care, confirm that part of you remained aware, squeezing my hand tightly when I spoke your name. I’ve chosen not to add how gaunt your cheeks looked, muscles slack as after a stroke,

or to mention your resemblance to that moon so often dimmed yet not erased by day. I wait for you to announce, “It’s late.” I say “I love you.” Answering, you add, “Good night.” After, my own gaze in the mirror seems wan— holding fast to its brief and borrowed light.