It's the night before your mastectomies.
I'm sitting on the end of the bed.
(We got the faded-orange-curtain-40-watt-lightbulb-
From the shower,
you suddenly loom over me,
smelling of peppermint soap and wet leaves
around the lake in the fall.
Holding a breast in each hand,
as if restraining the flight of doves,
you press them to my face and erupt into tears.
I touch my lips to one, then the other,
falter at the scent of my self -
the joyful signature of my fingers and hands.
I pull your body hard to mine,
as if to hurt will help to heal.
The room fades in and out like a bad radio.
The baseboard heater tick tick ticks.
Outside, the helicopter walloping on the roof
lowers a burned child,
stars explode across the night,
volcanoes rise from the ocean floor,
wobble the earth on its axis.
Except for our breathing,
we dare not move.
A courtesy acknowledgment to:
F. Richard Thomas, Death at Camp Palooka, Michigan State University Press, 2000