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.
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,
Originally published in Into the Void