From October 2002


The Night Companion

by Tom Spencer


Tending the flowers

at my brotherís grave:

the wiry strands of grass


as I rip them from the soil.

Scraping against the earth

dulled fingers scavenge for roots

like blind snakes

anxious to slip their skins.

With the last blade dispatched

I stand, panting, ready to go,

but it is too late.

My hands were my heartís distraction-

released from their task,

they return to his shoulder,

his brow,

brushing past the tangle of tubes

and wires that hang beside the bed.


Would you like some water?

Should I get the nurse?


A crow caws- its throat a vortex

that drains the color from the sky.

I freeze,

a trembling memorial

between the stones.


Itís me; Iím right here beside you.


Humming with hair-trigger machines,

that last sleepless night


a glaring apparition

projected through time.


Iím right hereÖ


An avalanche of images

crackles down my spine.

In a panic,

the rhythm of my retreat

pounds against the cemetery drive.

But then,

from the tall grass beside the road,

an explosion-

as a deer rises up and leaps into the woods.

When my breath returns,

new images gently eclipse the old:

the deerís silhouette on a cloudless night-

a solitary trail through the dew,

watchful eyes, fine-tuned ears,

and delicate legs


beneath velvet flanks

nestled by my brotherís grave.


ďItís me; Iím right here beside you.

I'm right here."



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