Even in paradise / all I could think of / was the earth.
–Najwan Darwish, ‘Paradise (II)’

As in—the river in your lungs sweet

with milk. A lea of purple irises flowering at the bank.

How at first light, we danced—

your tiny knuckles rounded in ivory. The stars adrift

in cattails. As in—now: from the hospital bed.

The slowing of your youth-less heart,

drowsed as the melody of a music box. The beats measured

in their disappearing . . .

Or as when a nurse gives the feel of gauze on your gums

and you are barefoot among daisies

and dandelion. The kids at play in our sun-stroked yard.

A woman,

with full-bodied breaths. Little One, I want to climb beside your shrinking

body and soften it to sleep. Spoon honey

from the gurgling of your chest—that I might lead you back

to your loveliness. I promise

I have not missed much . . . For all these years, I have seen God alive

in your pretty,

wondrous bones.

Originally published in Into the Void

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