Autumn, Six Months Later ~ Michael Pearce


That night the whole city got quieter

as her puppy breathing quit forever

and her great hungry generous six-foot soul

relaxed into the starlight and sea noise

leaving faint images on walls and skin

leaving its last fingerprints on our tired backs.


When you watch your mother die

all you can do is die with her

and then there is no stopping, you are forever

dying toward someone you will never touch again

and there is no more waiting between thoughts

because the first and only life has ended in you.


When my mother died you rocked me in the bosom

of your voice rocked me in the voice of your good heart

and in the heart of our old love I slept,

alone and cared for, surrounded by her house

and the endless lament of the frogs out back

and a new sound, which is this world without her.


You send maple leaves from Massachusetts

to cheer me up saying the days since her dying

are like leaves fallen on her face,

and I bury you in a pile of words to push back the terror

of what’s to come, to trap you at the very edge

of my life, remembering that


you stood outside my mother’s cancer room

and shook with losing her

knowing the hearthstone of our family

has shattered, there is no one left to hold us

and the bed she died in

has closed its womb and heart.


I see you naked in the wet rot of fall leaves

see you nursing the snails and bugs with your dead blood

and I want to die with you

not now, but in the slow way that old lovers

learn the walk of humility and the breath of gratitude

together, as the mirrors sag into God’s last word.