Barbara Brooks, Author, Poems, Poet, The Catbird Sang, Hillsborough, Orange County of North Carolina, Finishing Line Press.

Chapbook by Barbara Brooks

Shell to sea

In hurricane season, the spotter
plane flies through turbulence
into the eye. Stop signs snap
in the wind, the porch hammock
twists on eye hooks.

Seed potatoes sprout
in the basement.
Each pale eye growing
from a cube of the mother
until tendril breaks earth
Her parents shake her shoulder,
call her name. Closed eyes roam
underneath their lids.
Her eyes slit open,
they think she is waking up.

Even the therapist thinks
she is tracking his finger;
but her pupils,
narrow columns of black,
stare into beyond.

Shouldn't of gone to bed last night.
Elvena was hurting
in her chest and stomach.
I gave her one of my nitro tablets.

Wrapped in my blankets, I didn't hear
her. Don't know what woke me early.
Must have missed hearing her shift in bed.
Found her just as she was,
tried to find her pulse but she was cold.
Should've stayed up.

Called EMS. Wasn't long before I heard
sirens, lights knifing through the curtains.
In the doorway, I leaned on my walker
as the medics tried to revive her.
Should've stayed up.

Don't know what plans
are being made for me now.
Shouldn't of gone to bed last night.

Shouldn't of gone to bed last night.

She lies on linen sheets
on a white bed
in a white room
under a white light.

Her hand rests
on the black
oxygen valve,
skin wax-paper
thin, tendon
twitch the only
sign of life.

Behind closed eyes, she sees
a postcard from an old lover
tucked into the corner of her rolltop,
an inlaid matchbox from the Orient
with a lock of brown hair,
an embossing seal, the letter G
tinted by ancient wax.

She knows
the absence
of the present,
wonders what
the next will hold.
The black valve
waits beneath
her hand.

Cedar waxwings
pluck berries, ballet
among holly branches.

Sliding under the car,
I unplug the oil pan,
blackness streams
from the hole.

Six goslings hide
under their mother
for warmth.

Someone ties a noose
in a hospital gown, slips

from the tub's edge.

It started in my left foot,
it's the worst one right now.
I don't want to get stiff,
don't want a feeding tube,
I want to eat like I always do.
I've researched this disease--
it's stealing my body.

What about your other patients--
the young woman--
does she have children?
And the one
who can't hold her head up.

You know, you can't see the wind,
or a word or love. I wonder
if you become energy.
I want to have control at the end.
I think the light people see
is just the brain shutting down.

One week I can get in the tub,
the next, I have to figure a new way.

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