Tearing the Heart Out of the Matter.
Attending my mother’s dying.
February 5th 1999
The film has clicked and stopped. A stain
erases ghostly life. Claudette Colbert’s
steel pick, an instant ago chipping
martini ice, stabs the eye with blinding
whiteness. Gone, her dusky voice and cigarette,
gone in a blaze of light, corruscates and toasts
like my mother’s lungs crisped by glamorous promises.
Rage plays the stage of her crusted
lips, indignation “struts and frets”-- phantoms
slip from the darkness in her throat.
furtive as the Mexican dog
who has snatched her voice.
Only her eyes are left to plead.
Science knows how CO2 drowns
the blood; what oxygen each cell
may keep. Each plastic-wrapped fork
defends the nurse who turns away
from the puddling morphine I point out
under the blinking dispenser.
A two-cent join has failed. For hours
no one has fed the demon straining its collar
against the leash of my mother’s veins.
A falcon has pinioned her sparrow-thin chest.
“Reflex”, the nurse explains, each time
she arches her back like a man breaking on the wheel.
“They have no empathic sense”, says Lenny
of the lethal Peregrine he has talon-locked
to my gloved wrist. He marvels
that it preens for me, a stranger. But assures
me my cooing at its onyx black unblinking
eye means nothing.
It has closed now, having run to ground
my mother, whose eyes, dialed in to no
known frequency, reach for the helpless honor-guard
of children by her bed, even as she falls away.
Chanting the Prajna Paramita sutra,
holding a sprig of cedar picked along a grimy
Concord road, I cannot halt this flexing,
talons rummaging in her soft flesh.
“Run to ground”, Frail, fragile, undefended
mother, belly-up, thudding into the padded bed
as the killing-claws snatch her
into the empty throat of the sky
All things of the world speak of loneliness now:
shoes wait like dogs to be walked, clothes,
whisper in closets like hostages
The tree limbs, bare as electric wires,
hold Spring prisoner, refusing its ransom of beauty.
Who could have known her delicate
porcelain cup, on a faded green table
could swallow a life?
eyes cast warily skyward
refuse to sing in the flinty light.
Causes Peter Coyote Supports
The Global Security Institute, Native Sovereignty Issues, Wild Earth( Natural Corridors Program),