Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Afterlife

The night after my father died—not wanting to leave
my mother alone—I dragged a mattress into her room
and placed it at the foot of her bed. All night, lay there
listening to the neighbor’s fountain spill its cold stanzas
into the iron grass, the room a kind of afterlife, an alcove
filled with the distant music of water. Each morning after,
I’d head downstairs, prepare my mother’s breakfast;
a slice of dry toast, a few grapes, a small glass of milk,
then carry it back to her where she’d lay, newly awake,
her hair spreading like a blanched lake about her face
and pillow, the clarities of light pouring into the room.
Then downstairs, I’d take to my father’s chair, eyeing
spring bully the still hard surfaces of morning. And later,
switch on the snooker for my mother, both of us silent,
aching through the familiar, stunned, embryonic air
of her living room, drifting along its verges, watching
as snooker balls fell steadily into the day’s dark netting.  

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