Cover me with iris, baby’s breath,
white oleander. Cover me with owl feathers.
I do not want rough pine above my eyes,
the ache of bones, the slow leach to mineral.
I want to leave my shucked bones behind
clean as shed snakeskin on rocks
empty as a moth cocoon on a branch.
I want to fly up like a spark from fire embers.
Tell me that fire and light are one,
that after the fall, there was reconciliation.
Tell me that the scythe is a pure ribbon of light,
that inside the black cowl there is only white flame.
Let me join the bright light and last
longer than stars, longer than the universe.
Let my fly upward from white oleander
rising on owl feather wings.
At 97, Crossing Over
deep in a reclining chair
a polar explorer lost
fallen through an ice bridge
trapped in a crevasse
his dispatches garbled
single words white silences
his eyes glacial
fixed on nothing or something
we can’t see
as we lean in
toward the mumbling
oh oh oh
old Irish tenor that he is
he ramps up into song—
oh what a beautiful morning
Into the Dark
I dream I’ve drifted, weightless into darkness.
I feel myself floating in incense-perfumed air
see light and shadow shift across the sheets
hear mourners coming nearer, humming hymns.
You stroke my skin to wake me back to sunlight
and, happy I’ve awoken, you hold my hand.
But everything to which your touch ties me
seems flat, faded, receding, ephemeral.
Sleep seduces me again and I surrender,
drop deeply into its dark envelope—where
I feel myself received, wrapped in warm robes
and, secretly smiling, I release your hand.
© Patricia Behrens