The End When It Comes
for Isako, at last
Long before you’re gone, the losing begins.
And slow. And slow. You let go in inches,
starting with the shoulders, the ulna, wrist,
until each hand is rung with light. I never
imagined it this way. How the body goes
in stages. And the mind, leeched through
a crack at the base of the skull. No words
for this, though it’s the words that make it
bearable, the edge, blunted. Run, I will
run from this. The world caws brightly,
the crown of my head bursts with youth.
Yet this is how it ends. Who will bear this
dark shard in the eye, that the end when
it comes, dresses us down without mercy?
Small wonder, the racket you made at
the child’s approach. Ha—ha! To skeletal
teeth in head, bared. To flat hands, palms
clapped bone against bone, thwack thwack,
warding off demons as they gather like grim
congregants around your bed. This strange
anointing. This new spirit. How we fend.
Hedge grass, juniper. The cliff bares
its back teeth. Stone-faced, you slip
a black knot over your wrists, fuse
the ends with flame. How many times
have you stopped short, breath
jerked from the throat? To lose
yourself in the fall; to have lost it all
to need, affliction. Crank the heart’s
ugly lever, set the machine back
into motion. The bronze star points
north but never resolves. North-northwest,
east-northeast. May you find your way
by its burnished light. Here, take this
talisman of good faith. A handful of
broken rocks, bullets for the journey.