late one night, alone, on her back porch
under a silver moon. How sad it must
have been to know that it would be
a hot dog that would eventually take us down.
Maybe all I would have been able to think
about would be the words hot and dog,
and maybe that is the saddest of all things,
that in that final moment, such an awful
couple of words like hot dog would haunt
and haunt my last seconds. And how panicked
her face must have looked in those
last seconds before the warm black wave
rolled over it and calmed her eyes.
Did she see the moon? How did it look?
What words could she have said about it
if that hot dog weren’t wedged in her throat
keeping some beautiful string of them
trapped in her heart? Would any of them
have been new, some new word spilling out
like a shiny swift from a chimney in the dark?
And what were her last words? Could they
have been hot dog, the very thing that
took her—how cruel. How much crueler
it would be though, that if on our first day
after turning 30, words would begin to just
go away once we use them once—like just another
super-finite resource to be protected, and to
not use our words is never a kind of protection.
Would the first one to go almost always be I.
And then the second almost always be why.
We’d immediately be made to deal with not
being the center of our own universes,
and not being curious. We’d save love
for when our father dies, and then we’d
stare and blink helplessly
at our mothers as they crumpled up like wads
of paper in front of us. Remote control, mom,
I’d maybe have to say then, if I could even
be so lucky. And I would have to pluck out
another hair, a hair that is just as much hers
as mine. How else can we know if something
is too loud, how something is not loud enough,
and then how to love becomes like dying
through the sounds. I once saw my face
in the silver side of a mylar balloon
half-emptied of helium just hovering there
at face-level. There you are, I thought. Yes,