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Waiting to Taste the First Salt

 

A pacemaker

clocked out

 

her days. Two doctors

had removed her gall

 

bladder, and left

ninety-four years

 

of stored bile. She’d cling

till the bitter end,

 

we figured,

waiting shamefaced

 

for the acidic

aftertaste

 

of her words that spread

like scars

 

to settle and dissolve.

In her cobwebbed voice,

 

she said

she wouldn’t make it

 

and no one held her hand.

What little strength

 

we had. Her body wasted

with fever

 

and vomit.

Her back clenched,

 

bladder flattened. Death put on

her polyester gown,

 

her sparse body silenced

to a star of fragile bones.

 

 

Is Empty He Says

 

Every two weeks I ache

in his conversations his breakable

stories his word-spelling the useless sticky

ways he repeats what he knew

and then his numbers

incomplete but ticking how

they enchant and pass

through many times

I stood I stand

by the toaster and listen

to the smell of his blinkings

his voice still

music and the clear echoing

and the cup empties and the cup

is empty he says goodbye

eight ways says he is guided and I am full

of the last line next word the scorch

of fortune his unhappy leanings

and then he transposes nouns the days

narrow not belonging and I listen but know

nothing the phone line dead

 

 

About the Author
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Lauren’s third book, One Hundred Hungers, won the Dorset Prize (Tupelo Press, 2016). She is a 2015-2018 Black Earth Institute Fellow and the producer/host ofAudio Saucepan on Santa Fe Public Radio. More at www.laurencamp.com.