Walking to my office I had stopped
to listen – where are you? where are
A robin cast her flute notes
off a frost blanched roof peak,
sweetly querulous, piercing
the heart’s rim, tugging through it
the long thread of music.
The world that bled back to my eye
had changed. The east had flushed the rose
of a cheek when the cold
compress is lifted. Narcissi
were lifting the gray mat of leaves.
The mind and body can be
separate places, that’s what had and –ing
prove, I was thinking as I rubbed my thumb
along paper, listening to my print’s
stuttering rasp. I was not turning
the page, not seeing the words, my eye
compelled to the tender new bristles
tipping the yew’s black wands.
Without the aid of any wind,
they nodded; some pulse rubbed
the blood-in-milk berry cups along the pane.
Faint static through the glass.
The pianissimo had faded; the needle
was about to lift.
And it was still the crinkle
of the paper drape I heard, the hand
outside the door, rustling through my file.
The cordial, imperturbable voice explaining
how the body mistakes
part of itself for enemy, launches cells
to kill it. That I must take a replacement
the rest of my life.
My legs hung like stopped pendulums.
I was still, somehow, in that
still life: mirror in its stainless frame,
Lucite jars of swabs and packaged
gauze. Propping my torso
with my hands’ heels, I was nodding
like the yew outside my window, with each jet of blood
downward from the heart, into the body
that was not me, and was me.