Henri Cole

Dead Mother
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All of life was there—love, death, memory—

as the eyes rolled back into the wrinkled sleeve

of the head, and five or six tears—profound,

unflinching, humane—ran out of her skull,

breathtakingly heroic, and tenderness (massaging

the arms, sponging the lips) morphed into a dog

howling under the bed, the bruised body that

had carried us, splaying itself now, not abstract

but symbolic, like the hot water bottle,

the plastic rosaries, the shoes in the wheelchair

("I'm ready to stretch out"), as dents and punctures

of the flesh—those gruesome flowers—a macabre tumor,

and surreal pain, changed into hallowed marble,

a lens was cleared, a coffer penetrated.