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.