Avra Wing


Our sons stream
from Chicago,
guitar and drums,
at the Brown Rice
on Dearborn.
We lie in bed
a time zone away
watching on a laptop.

Adult children,
oxymoron of loss.
They are there
and we are here,
and besides
what we spent
on music lessons
it has nothing to do
with us.

Free jazz means
they need to
sound each other out
feel when to join in
and when
to hold back.
To be
and unexpected.

The set runs late,
but we stay
til the end
not wanting to miss
any of it,
though we can't
tell how it went
because the image
keeps freezing.

* * *


Today we go to the Brooklyn museum with Jeff, who is
wearing an "Art of the Motorcycle" jacket and dying.

I've known the pleasures of earth. I bathed myself in light
on an afternoon of rejoicing--not a festival,
but an ordinary afternoon where I opened my heart
to the world, and the world came in.

He says he wants to see something old, so we wander
through the Dynasties of Egypt, winding up with the mummies.
Kids from a neighborhood school are stationed
by the glass cases, taking notes, talking, or
running to their teacher for instructions. They fill the rooms.

That which can be named must exist. That which is named
can be written. That which is written shall be remembered.
That which is remembered lives.

He stops in front of the fragment from the Book of the Dead,
also called The Book of Going Forth by Day.
He laughs about this, says maybe that's why he came.
He studies every word--a supplicant who has not
made things worse for others or disrespected
the gods, but brought the proper offerings.

Belladonna and mandrake and frankincense, visions
of peace unending, turquoise and silver and carnelian,
the stone of earth's joyful singing, the earth ground into
the pores of my skin, yesterday and today and the sun
rising between them. I brought only those things
which I cared for and gave back. I bring home the earth.
I bring back the words.

We talk about our children, and his illness. He needs, he says,
to think about how to spend each day and what is really important.

I am a priest of the heart. I know what is mine to feel.

At lunch in the cafeteria, he orders soup and pizza
and asks for some of our fries. I forget to get a knife,
and he insists on getting up from the table
to get me one. It is good, he says, to be useful.

This is the meaning of yesterday--that friends
remember my name and after long journeys
I am greeted by their voices on the road.

Before we leave, his wife texts him to remember to take his pill.

That will be as good a death as any for me,
with women weeping, lotus blooming,
and cool breezes blowing.
That will be a victory.

*Originally published in New Madrid.


Doorway on the Mountain, Avra Wing's memoir of recovering from the accident that left her disabled, is available at Onlineoriginals.com. Her poetry chapbook, Recurring Dream (from which the two poems above were taken), was the winner of the 2011 Pecan Grove Press competition, and her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Hanging Loose and Michigan Quarterly Review. Her novel, Angie, I Says, a New York Times notable book, was made into the film Angie starring Geena Davis and James Gandolfini. She has also published essays in the Times. Avra is an adjunct professor of English at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York, where she lives. Her website is www.avrawing.com.