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  • Spring Teatime, 4 o’clock, and: The Fable of the Little Old Man and the Little Old Woman, and: Imperatives, and: A True Account of My Mother’s Last Days, and: We Play Badminton in Midnight Light, and: Her Migration to Summer Places
  • Carol D. Guerrero-Murphy (bio)

Spring Teatime, 4 o’clock

We sit in the west courtyard. We chat about the times we have nearly died over our long lifetimes. Death is a tossed stone. Memory is a pool. The melanoma incident. The two bloody births. The numerous fatal car accidents mitigated or avoided. The angioplasty. Open-heart surgeries. Several resistant staph infections. Three muggings at gunpoint. My estranged husband’s attack with axe. We omit our dire childhood diseases, too long ago for consideration. We digress, include several near deaths of our children from accidents and disease, near deaths of our nieces (cars, drugs, suicide attempts), the blood clots of our brother, and so on. We could go on to our parents. If death were fire, to fight it we would have to light thousands of candles. The ripples from the death stone expand and multiply, we could be approaching horror. But we are approaching the image of the two of us floating serenely in a pond on a hot summer day in the future. We dunk gingersnaps. The death stone drops into the pool, ripples gently out. We like the sound of the water. We are alive. We hold each other’s hands this afternoon in early spring; the sunlight is delicate and barely warm. [End Page 133]

The Fable of the Little Old Man and the Little Old Woman

They were still in their pj’s dancing cheek to cheek in their living roomafter a first cup of coffee. He said he was embarrassed, already 9 am.He didn’t know his lungs were full of tumors already.She didn’t know that she had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t always remember him.He wouldn’t tell us about her diapers and her terrors at an always new street corner.Through the balcony door, sun flickered up from the Willamette River, a heron sliced east.Inside their blooming red geranium, she said, the Fourth of July was exploding.Then he told a fable about the little old man and the little old womanwho packed a picnic of the last chunk of bread, a piece of dry cheese,their only apple, and a long-saved bottle of red wine.In their little old car, they drove to the edge of a sea bluffwhere they feasted and made love and sang ballads till the moon rose,then they buckled in and drove off the cliff together.He said, Isn’t that the most wonderful story? Such a happy ending. [End Page 134]


Wild Horse leads me from clover mound to clover mound,more more he tugs on the rope. I’m gimping along on the ground

leaning hard on his shoulder in order to breathe fly spray and horse.More, more, I breathe. More horses, more summer, on and on

until I see myself on my deathbed, last sucking breath, speakingonly regret: more wild horses, sooner, younger.

This hunger for more has led you and me, beloved,bitted and saddled for the whole clichéd story

more sex, more children, more gingersnaps, more meat,more square feet, more uisce beatha, more stories, more journeys

as if the Big Bang had been a body in the dark, groaning desirenot a voice speaking the word or light. Desire, I breathe.

I desire to breathe more of Horse’s skin.Everything on earth rises from this red horse hide

indwells there and releases every kind of sea from salt to sweetand every kind of dung and plant and stone.

And from him, certainty also rises, a sudden hot wind:this day of meadow grazing, sky gathering cumulus clouds,

this look into my casket, this black universe stretching, everythingdesired is right here, you and I are in clover, more than enough. [End Page 135]

A True Account of My Mother’s Last Days

The answer that I love, the answer that I embrace...


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pp. 133-139
Launched on MUSE
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