Uncertainty

Life’s great deceit
The human equalizer
Is death, certainly.
No announcement from our pilot
No time of arrival
No maps of the place we land,
And what happens
Afterwards
All mysteries, all.

He teases us with a whip sometimes
tickles our insides with a feather.
Cancer’s uncertain effects
Of diagnosis of life or death
Or would it be a stretch
Of the imagination
A Jewish woman may conjure up an image
like this:
I’m in a concentration camp
Looking down a barrel of a CT scanner
Like waiting in line for a shower
But the lot of us wind up
Tossed into a gas chamber.

A body transformed at the whims of science
For the good of us and the bad of the rest
And for those who cannot sleep.
My head droops on my neck escaping the air
Closer to the ground where the poison
Waits snaking up my body. A fat brown boa,
twisting and constricting
Suffocating my peace with a promise:
Please squeeze hard.
For thick with the dead
After life’s passing glory
The campaign marches on.
Beating time tracking and tracing out
Torsos with cold leather fingers
They drew my blood then sent me
To the mass grave. I fell in
Losing my balance.
On the bodies of giant
Piles of shoulders
I become faceless in a crowd
Of numbers up before mine.

Pet Rich Ore

(Dedicated to chemotherapy)

Steal the scent of aftermath,

Of rivers, ponds, waterfalls, of

Mangled limp leaves, blown

Around. Fog, water’s mystical state

Lifted the ground up by noon

Do the arithmetic:

What’s left outside after a storm?

Rain leaves its distinct message:

More precisely, less understood

Oily ascension from the earth

Reaches to encounter rising

Mountain roads. Projecting

On a green screen we stop

Acting, instead slowly, slippery,

and wet, waiving goodbye to my

Now-relinquished memory.

Mirrors from lighthouses beam

A spot where the words hide.

Vast oceans of gray crevices

Foggy and neglected, recollect

Years before, a pear-green sky

Ripened and began blowing.

Curtains beckoning with arms

Waving to the operatives

Waiting for instructions.

No signs yet.

Finally the storm bursts

Through a bedroom door

Met by an unkept little dog

One that came with her name.

“Petrichor.” The memory

Satisfied finally, for

Here’s the word for the oily scent,

Rising up with a heave to hear

Earth’s sigh of relief

When water rises after it falls

And worms rejoice in its muddled

Grounds. Mud made puddling

Mid afternoon humid

A swampy mystery

Finally rests in its ground.