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Not Yet Dead

ISSUE:  Winter 1993
Christmas Eve I get the call from your family,
asking me to write a “bio”—for what? for the funeral
home, but you are not yet dead, barely skirting,
the edge of a coma, circling the dark lake: are you
walking around it to keep it from going in or
searching for the most hospitable water, the least
dark, the least cold? I begin Charles Gus. . . but leave off the time and date of death, the first
piece of information, and stare at the computer screen’s
glacial flicker as you stare at the ceiling, three thousand
miles away. I want to write: Dear Costa, No, not my shoulders, but the front of my shoulders, collarbone, that wing across the front of my body aches for you. It starts to flap as I write out what you’ve done,
danced and choreographed several projects not yet dead, the air slammimg against my chest,
the wing, slow and steady, beating the air to froth, wind
rushing by my ears, handmade dolls toured Europe, the wing, those hollow bones unfurling, burgundy feathers
rowing down through wind as if it were water, the lake
whipped up, surface churning and burnished, metallic
green, gunmetal gray, survived by Michael, Constantine, the clouds roiling over the lake, where on the far shore,
service, Greek Orthodox Church, dusk, you stand dark and small, where, afraid, you begin to step in
and the wing extends, shadows the lake,
but cannot sweep you back.


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