After my mother died, I looked at a photo where she had moved into assisted living from the ER. Her oxygen tube in her nose, two small children standing on each side. Her hands around their hands pulled tightly to her chest, the chorus of knuckles still housed, white like stones, soon to be freed, soon to be splashing like horses.
By itself, isolated on this plywood,
among this puzzle of foregone possibilities,
his intact head seems to want affection.
Without knowing that I will do it,
I reach out and scratch his jaw,
and I stroke him behind his ears,
as if he might suddenly purr from his cooked head.