watches sea mist fall like silk from the sky’s shoulders,
the last star slip—a distracted child—
from dawn’s open hand.
Trees are shedding versions of themselves,
throwing leaves to the flames
that flicker like squirrels across the graveyard
where last night Aunt Libby ran
flapping those impertinent cloths.
She knows the anguish
of having your purpose questioned,
of needing to be fought for.
She knows what palliative care only means.
The scholars and dustmen are here again
listing in their ledgers and scrolls
what she eats and when and in how many ways
she’s been useful. Aunt Libby mistakes useful
for beautiful. She calls them her poor little mites,
blows smoke rings into their faces.
Leaning from her conspiratorial bed—
she won’t sit in the day room because
she refuses to be like them—
she says she’s been good as gold
since they scraped all the wasps from her brain
and that horse started ploughing
a backwards path through the model village
where visitors come and go
like memories ripped or sold or slaughtered.
Aunt Libby says she’ll stay
as long as her books are within reach
and there’s enough light to read them by.