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John Hennessy

Jack pine cones, maple leaves, red tail-feathers
From a startled hawk—she filled her purse

With figments from the bulldozed woods.
Ice in the birdbath, a frozen millet stick.

Paint peeling from deck rails was too thick
To ignore. The colors matched her moods,

Grey-blue on top, white oak below. The nurse
For evening meds, and maid at angelus. Red leathers

Scuffed, spit-shined, roughed up again, the heels
A stack of wooden nickels. Mother’s meals

Grew smaller every day, rice grain, breadcrumb,
Soon she’d fit on the head of a pin, too frail

To hold a lapdog, Siamese cat. The dumb
And artless jib that kept her rigging, sail

Set to a constant circling—sickroom, kitchen, bath.
Propped up on pillows, mother watched the last

Blackbirds harass the feeder. She folded sums
Across her thoughts. Reckonings. Junk mail.

The clacking in the hall, her favorite boots.
Her hair still heavy on her shoulders, dark, loose.


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