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The Comforters

ISSUE:  Autumn 1998


The cat nosed around the hummingbird
but didn’t want him. Sweet bird,
his throat feathers go black
then fuchsia when I tip him to the side.
Who else could I show this to but
you? I’m promoting
reasons for living. Today it’s The Miracle
of Change—the rain in California, for instance,
that comes every winter to wash
the cobwebs from the leaves.
But you aren’t listening.

When you give me that spooky look
I’ll try anything.


“What are you planning for your
retirement?” sang the neighbor to my father
propped on his final
flowered pillow.
She stirred the coffee I brought her,
forked up her cake
and doled out comfort to my father the way

I talk to my husband: slowly,
as if he were a child, and too loud,
as if he were deaf or foreign, and so careful,
profusely careful, choosing
each wrong word.


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