The Twin Bed

In the austere twin bed, the woman they call
               “the mother” is dying. The other
                              woman, the daughter in the doorway

doesn’t believe it. Impossible to think
               the first woman would relinquish
                              all control of the comings and goings

of the world. The daughter watches
               labored inhalations; they are twitches
                              from the wing of a broken bird. That metaphor

is too romantic, she decides. The man who drove her
               here, to a place she was once confined
                              (commonly christened “home”),

enters, sits calmly on the side of the bed
               as though it will not suddenly burst into flame.
                              As though he too will not burn.

The daughter has no labels for him. None
               that work: friend, partner, significant
                              someone. She does not want to bind him

with language or squeeze him of all oxygen.
               The man begins to massage the mother’s shoulders.
                              The daughter wants to shout, warn

about the way the older woman’s skin
               burns at the touch. He doesn’t seem to notice.
                              The mother turns her head. She, who hasn’t linked

two words together in weeks, says,
               I will never forget this. And the daughter feels something
                              so fleeting, who can say what.

 

 

 

 

Candace Pearson won the Liam Rector First Poetry Book Prize from Longwood University for Hour of Unfolding. Her poems have been featured in print and online in various journals and anthologies, and she is grateful to count Pedestal Magazine among them. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, she can be found writing by lantern light in her mountain cabin in the wilds of Southern California.