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,
brushing past the tangle of tubes
and wires that hang beside the bed.
Would you like some water?
Should I get the nurse?
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.
from the tall grass beside the road,
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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