The View from the Needle

If prayers could animate
the matchstick arms
that dangle by your side,
I’d compose a dozen daily
and post them on the old-growth
cedars in Olympia
which shoot straight up to Heaven.

It’s been three years since you felt
the numbness in your hands
and your illness is still
a terrible mystery to us,
its cause and cure as yet
undiscovered.
All the doctors  know is that
room by room
the body shuts down
while the mind remains alert,
that the muscles wither 
like spindly plants
until, no longer able to
breathe or swallow,
you wait for the darkness
to settle in. 

Seated in the brilliant sunlight
of this revolving restaurant
five hundred feet above Seattle,
the end seems as far away
as the sailboats in the sound.
You sip the wine through a straw.
You savor every bite of the prime rib,
cut by the chef into tiny pieces.
Your dress and jewelry have
an understated elegance.
Rose blush has brought the color
back to your cheeks.

You close your eyes
and imagine that
you’re dining in first class,
looking through the cabin window
at the billowing, red-tinged clouds
while the earth 
in all its blue green splendor
turns beneath your feet.


(Originally published in Gravel)

 

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