Near the end, her mouth was pinned down
at the corners, a cartoon of disappointment
she could no longer voice. What was left to her?
Feeble body, failing mind, long marriage ended,
dead friends and far‐flung, unavailable children
with their practical admonitions: paint, exercise,
write, walk. The endless, undifferentiated
afternoons. Snow. Summer. Snow again. A fall.
Her mouth, so at odds with the groomed
silver bob and striped Picasso jerseys,
looked abandoned, stripped of all hope
the front door could suddenly pop open
like a long‐sealed jar, bringing the outside in
as fresh news or bread, or as love, stamping
snow from its boots, leaving waffles of ice
to melt across the tiled vestibule floor,
the shapes drawn in dried salt by morning.
Julie Bruck is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Monkey Ranch (Brick Books, 2012). Her work has appeared in Ms., Ploughshares, Numero Cinq, The New Yorker, and many other journals and magazines. She was the recipient of Canada’s 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry.