Gull-Flapping Future Luck

Fixed, thus, on a yellowed wall above my eye, / This /

I

Fixed, thus, on a yellowed wall above my eye,

This photograph of you at sixteen years

Distills a haunting pleasure as you die

A second time, or third, to seize the fears

That make Death real, most real. In life, always,

You loved this child, myself, despite the tears

I fled to save a lie—Youth’s guarded phase

To struggle best alone, or not at all,

To dream the archway down, or itch its gaze

Wherever you were not: Your touch, love, call

I did not heed, I concede, until this death

Forgives too cruel my youthful, primal fall.

II

Hear, Mother, hear, this mourning call to wrench

You back alive, once more, from death-deposing

Virtuous acts, and risk this mental trench,

Dug deep and wide against a warrior’s closing

Blow, to recast Nature’s remedy in fact—

That sound of lapping waves and gulls nosing

Down on sea breeze day and evening sinking pact.

Wildwood: My birth cottage by the sea, still strong

Forty-odd years later, while you intact

With will and cancer fate must prove how wrong

I strung your ocean stars, believing you

Would never choose our first eternal prong.

III

Wildwood! O Wildwood! Will you shift this fate

Of grief from Mother’s golden gifted air

To sand and sun and salt: Time’s healing gate

Crushing thrust, a need, a complex dare,

Required, sufficient, gauged to mortal stealth

Survival right—not tubes, not holes, not bare

Body cast to forge her giveaway health

For what exchange. Release that image stuck

To Mother’s death, for God sake, as new wealth

Divines a picture-perfect angel shucked

From mildest winter core, and grounds in deed

A silent, salted, gull-flapping future luck.

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