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Heart Attack

ISSUE:  Winter 1998

As if a hearse stood, engine running, in front of the house
and won’t be sent away. Months, I’m told, wait

wait until like St. Denis I can move with higher thought
or manage Graham’s “Lament,” flexed muscle, back-bent wrist

the entire body distorted—that effort, that sign of art
He will live through this attack, this second bypass

but not the next, there will be no next, no anodyne
to ten, fifteen years omitted by fast forward. Recovery

will be tedious. Painful, mixed with anger and deprivation
—glad, a little. He is my fate . . . .

What is tougher than the heart, going on these months
like a dog, a dependent housing tiny neuro-peptides of emotion?

He’s been through this dying and living through it,
mourned the conditional given when the soul, chosen,

condescended to be born. I ought to accept this imposed
indigence, do nothing to alarm him (alarm

comes anyway, elbows us apart
—a mute tense bedfellow)

not say, what if. . .
hide the envelope he asked for (then forgot?)

the envelope stamped with a flying gull, “Affordable
Optional Services,” committal from The Naiad, an identity-tag

for bones. Ought to spend thought on not answering
sacred texts with their buried questions. Spend it

on a meal, two meals,
then throw out the garbage


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