On the third day, my
sister stuffs red pill after red pill
into my mother’s cheeks to quell
her screams, the hospice
nurse at midnight, whose
parents were Viennese Jews
on the Kindertransport, feeds her
compassion and mercy from his own
hands. She is far away
when I arrive, slumped
in her recliner, head lolling, mouth
slack, a dedication to the makeshift
menorah, beeswax on a kitchen
plate, woven from the thick air of the room.
To witness the suffering of the outcasts.
To light a wick as if to say I am yours alone,
just enough in the covenant for a day.
I follow her shallow breaths, call my dear one,
the nurse, who says listen to the in and out
of her life, and I don’t know where to start
counting, everything depends on the magic
number/six might be twice a third, as in the
beginning there was water and earth and
the scraping to let it be plenty and good.
To ease the pain of the treasured ones, the
desecrated time. To strike a match like a pulse,
just a drop of oil for this hour.
My heart gets in on it, makes up for the silence
between pauses, I gulp deeply as if I can keep
her on desire alone, as if the will of the
people, crying through the millennium, could
enter her body and pull her rooted to this spot
when the unbelievable happens, eight days of light
in her tiny apartment, my mother opens her eyes,
says hello in a small voice, eats a persimmon, drinks
some water, the fire elongates, wax
engraved like stone, like singing, she is
not going to die today
the tip of her heart and lungs still swelling,
she is in her chair, eating an orange fruit,
a gift, a miracle
from the blue and white
plate of the world.