Alida Woods
My Mother Declines Death

When her husband died,
                he met her at the mouth
                of the river–cordgrass
                anchored in pluff mud. Her feet
                held fast to the bank.
                His pull dissipated
                into the updraft
                of an osprey’s wing.

After her son died,
                he found her crouched
                at the foot of the elm
                where her children caught
                fireflies and smelled of summer.
                He urged. She declined,
                holding fast to
                feathered branches.

And when her daughter died,
                he lured her into the crow-filled woods,
                surrounded her in darkness
                and the indifference of the wind.

                His case for leaving was as solid
                as the rock slid over the grave.
                She pulled back even as he held her
                in the dark humming night.

When breath returned
she felt the fire,
burning like compost, her own
aerobic energy amassing
in her heart.

                She turned and with her
                broken body rose.