I couldn’t take my eyes off her face
in the bed, that silent pre-death repose.
She looks more floral than human,
her face white as the chill before the bloom,
the skin folding scion-like around her skull,
protecting the still living root below.
Beside her in a hard chair I watch for hours,
day after day, my own self now shrinking
from my dread, from my shock that this force
(my mother was a lion) can be so undone--
the same dazed astonishment when I saw the scaffold
of a great doomed whale belly up on the sand
of Santa Cruz--a skyscraper of white bones,
picked clean by who knows what and yet
still mighty in grace and history.