-- after Monet’s “Flood, 1889”
-- for my mother, her last hours on 3/28/03
The sky told her it was coming.
Surely she had done something wrong—
an affair she dreamed true, cigarettes,
stolen from her father. What heartsick
smoke she blew from Emmie’s attic,
skies promising everything.
She smelled dirt roiling. Waves swelled green,
rocked black. Where was Jefferson Street,
Emmie’s porch, bride’s spirea
blowing into her lap … nothing wrong?
Water rising, and her legs, always dependable,
will not, cannot run. Look, the maple
Madge planted in the front yard threatens
purple to brown in a tangled sky.
Now walls billow like sheets her mother
pinned to summer winds. And her husband—
why does he want to boil her an egg, butter
her toast? Something is wrong.
In the distance, a city. Its white lights
roll toward her, radiant. She folds her spine.
Water flows through her. The sky
told her it was coming.