Stone-faced at dawn, you describe
cancer shambling through your body
like a filthy old man toting
a pornographic book to bed.
Rather than contest your simile,
I open the sliding breezeway door,
inhale the blue-gray cold and try
to admire silhouetted pines
waving as if underwater.
I also feel underwater. Tart
flavor of wood smoke belching
from a neighbor’s furnace suggests
how cremation will treat us both,
although not together. Today
the war in Afghanistan will kill
a dozen combatants and twice
as many civilians. Today
George at the bookshop will shelve
twenty or thirty art books
that will never sell. Today
in the town’s half-dozen churches
hymns will groan as they suffocate
the last traces of piety.
Today the ponds will start to freeze,
sealing turtles into mud bottoms
while refracting sunlight too weak
to prism into the full rainbow
we expect every summer. This year,
turning its last few pages,
will remember your name in type
so tiny I’ll squint to read it.
You still have appetite enough
for my infamous apple pancakes,
so I’ll heat the griddle and mix
the flour and eggs and slice apples
enough for two, gas range grinning
with a ring of steady blue flame.