Atrophy / He Appears


Remembering is precious metal.
I go deep to mine
the dark silence.

Down the bitten steps, I stumble.
Below, a child stands, waiting,
hands upturned, yearning,
filthy-faced, eyes beg,
Do not abandon me!

I have no ambition, I explain.
I only ask for kindness, she pleads.
Sit and tell me your story, I say.
I’m hungry,she answers.
I have only this, I tell her

and pull the shrunken bit of hope
from my pocket.
It’s enough,she smiles
and takes it, as if
it were a precious thing.

I watch her lick the edges,
savor it fully,
begin to gnaw and chew.
Tears shake loose,
spatter in the oil-stone beneath.


within a group of mutual friends
all milling around. The room
with white floor has no walls.
Her husband and son stand nearby.
He walks right up to her,
broad-faced, bright and sweet-
smiling as ever, beard neatly trimmed,
teeth white as hope.
With no explanation of why
he’s suddenly returned from the dead,
he opens his arms, his eyes speak clearly
before his voice follows with,
“I love you,” and he embraces her.
Her startled arms encircle
his shoulders as she answers, “I love you,”
wondering how he’d managed the journey
and what others are thinking of
his inexplicable resurrection.
The simplicity of it.
She doesn’t have time to ask if he cared
about the poem she’d written – the one
about his disappearance into death.
As soon as they let go, he falls back
into the crowd, lost ever again
behind faces still living. Her husband,
her son – at left, at right.
One hand holding her hand,
one hand gently pressing her
shoulder. Eyes, deepest lakes.
She bathes in their gazes as murmurs
envelope, her thoughts left to flounder
on beaches of waking. Susan Botich