Berkeley Postcard


During the hour away from her dying I took

to hike Claremont Canyon and back, the postcard

pasted itself to the bench in the rain. Black

ballpoint ink, a signed work, a girl with long

black hair in a galaxy cloak with two unslippered

toes edging the horizon line, a pocked planet’s

porthole overhead. On the reverse, crosshatched,

the Milky Way: Definite planets, spokes of stars

as if through my mother’s eyes, this paper door,

my brother asleep beside his wife on one side

and my fear of the dark on the other, rain on the roof

and the indifferent silver in-breath of Bart taking

our mother night by night from us, her breathing

the only inside-the-house sound we listened for, her

face to the wall, mouth open, the tip of her nose

ashening, ash blue as if tipped in snow, the midnight

hospice nurse unalarmed, unmoved, like the artist—

did he mean to leave his girl out in the rain? How I

needed her, expressionless face drying under

my brother’s lamp and slid into a plastic sleeve,

closed between pages of my notebook to keep.

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