Star Pine

by Marsha De La O

Marsha De La O

Time can slow to a halt in a hallway
with a view of a star-pine
by the pharmacy, and the roof below
with its carpet of asphalt and small rocks.
I've got a window seat and minor piety,
I've got a chant, thrumming:
You, my faith, my ark, my bricks and mortar.
We've already said good-bye.

My rule is: keep your mouth shut.
We don't know how it gets in a body.
If I yawned, a tumor could flit inside
about the size of a cream puff or a golf ball
without symmetry - spikes and folds and webs
like a baby dragon.

And when it hatched, the mother
bent her fearsome neck
and moved that nestling
near where your blood bustles.

I've got a thick skull of hope
unwinding a vision, a picture
for afterwards:
you're pink faced and twinkling, rosy-all-over,
maybe shambling a little, but otherwise
the same.
You're looking good.

I'm the life form with a sour smell.
It's fear, but I tell myself that's covered here
by the dead smell of caution, they're non-committal.
They pad by in booties and hairnets, careful
of the I.V., the pole, the whole awkward procession,
a movable bed, a bag of clear liquid
dripping like mercy.

And the patients
with sheets drawn up to their chins
have suffered themselves to be tethered and pressed
like good and sweet animals.

The elevator opens, they're pushed inside,
the door closes behind them.
I watch them leaving, and wait for you.
The star pine leans toward the glass.
I'm mouthing thank you
and whispering please.

That star pine is your lost sister.
That star pine is your brother's soul,
sane and calm and cleansed.

The dragon
bends her fearsome neck;
the tree
is breathing next to the window.

Let it breathe for you.

Last updated November 25, 2022