I go to the woods to writeand the phone rings therewhere I sit among the cousinsof telephone poles, their mothersaunts and uncles, fathers stillrooted and deeply breathing—the phone rings, and I answerfrom my chair in a room of glasstall windows gleaming into greenleaves and needles wavingin a rising wind, gesturingto each other here in the woodswhere, oddly, the phone rings.
My father is dying. I knowhe's been slowly looseningconnections, his breath so quietI strain to hear it; all of himslower and getting smaller [End Page 134] even the slight smile at his ownimpatient preference for shade—now he's picking up speedlike the forest breeze, soft stillbut swiftening, using up timefaster than flying a thousand miles:leaves is suddenly a verbneedles are surgical steel.
Lately when I called he'd say: See?Dial this number, you still get me.Today you did, soon you won't.He laughs and coughs a little.Soon I'll be in his room, gonefrom these windowsmade of light; I'll be gonefrom trees made of lightby science and magic—to sit in the dark by his bedwhere he says No, no, don'topen the curtains; it's too much.I don't want the light. [End Page 135]
Judith Arcana is descended from Russian and Polish Jews with attitude, four grandparents who came to the U.S. a hundred years ago. Judith's most recent book is the poetry collection What If Your Mother (2005). In 2008, she collaborated with Ash Creek Press to make POEMS, a signed/limited edition broadside of five poems, and Family Business, a chapbook manuscript in an envelope. A new chapbook collection, 4th Period English, will be out in 2009. Visit judithar-cana.com.