We are coming into that time
when things are not fully themselves –
sky improperly dresses in glint and shadow,
buildings slant from the vertical,
birds toss themselves from bare branch to branch.
Even the voice slips from the mouth
without its coat.

My mother
(remembered here from that photograph)
pegs a sheet to a line, the pebble-dashed wall
of the shed catching and breaking
the white light of morning behind her,
her mouth open but silent, her eyes
trying to hold what is already leaving.
Days not fully themselves.

Neither now nor then.
When do we ever close the face of the past,
lay copper suns on its eyelids,
bind its bony fingers with rosary beads?
Nothing dies completely. On nights
like this even death
finds it hard to retain its certainty.

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