Farther North

Faith and prayer
were not enough.
Years of constant care and plans
meant to insulate small children
from the fears of their parents
were crushed under the weight
of mutant biology.

Childhood cancer.
Is there a crueler oxymoron?
How were we to accept
this bolt thrown from
the heavens of a god we’d worshipped
and expected loyalty from?

A midnight call
took her away.
Delivered second-hand to me
to where I lay in another home
tearless and guilty.

Through children of my own
I understand the insanity
that must have stood for reason
within the maelstrom  of my parents’ minds,
but better to have witnessed and been seared
by the hot flame of her death
than to have the wound forever burned
into what should have  been her  memory.

Life’s line reveals itself
as unbroken stream
where  edges of events
are lost between future and past.

But not that pale tragedy.

It parched the flow
with one great scalding blast
that left ground as barren as salted earth
and white as my sister’s dying hand.

Forever severed,
what I thought had been
the omnipotent bonds
of common hearts and blood.

And consequence?

Siblings escaped
to cobble what family they could
from friends, from lovers, from memory.
My mother vanished into sleep
and I became a visitor
to my father’s house.

And silence took her  place.

Abandoned, I abandoned them
and burrowed into Maine’s cold snow bank.
And still I dream
of running farther still
always colder, always farther north
to embrace a land where nothing grows
and within that pure white winter
to feel only the pulse of my own heart
and to let that be enough.

 11/09/00

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