Candace Pearson won the Liam Rector First Book of Poetry Prize from
Longwood University for Hour of Unfolding. Her poems have been published in leading journals and anthologies and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A freelance writer/editor by day, she organizes poetry events and writes by lantern light in the San Bernardino Mountains of California.
1 / The sky opens and two pencil-traced figures fall
into a day of paper, shaky ink. After twenty-five years,
we make vows of state-sanctioned origami.
2 / Molecules shift after an unexpected wind. I sign away
some inexpressible solitude. You: I’m not afraid
of dying, but now I want more time.
3 / A day of case numbers & invaders. Hospice nurses &
opioid peddlers, deliveries of oxygen, a mechanical bed
that hoists you high onto the altar.
4 / I mimic your careful cuneiform, diary of doses & hours,
ruler-straight rows of acquiescence from a man
who once took nothing stronger than vitamin C.
5 / This morning I brave the syringe, draw just enough
morphine, not more, let it weep into your mouth,
calibrating the immeasurable.
6 / Your son arrives. We show our ringed hands; you,
unable to rise or stop leave-taking, say, It has been
a wonderful five days for both of us.
7 / A memory of feathers: blue heron on guard, injured
crow falling into your embrace, so many wings.
If only they could grant you glide & pitch.
8 / Yes, ma’am! Yes, sir! you shout, already in between
realms, as sentry trees tap on your windows in code
and earth persists in tenacious rotation.
9 / Morning of stones, collected around ponds
at the world’s edge. Quartz, its gray veins bleeding,
fool’s gold preening in the tumble & rush.
10 / For all the ill-formed words, noxious, lamented
words, for each stinging nettle & bite, in this moment,
on this day, we forgive.
11 / Farewells whirl into view. An old actor friend visits
to conjure your younger self. An ex-wife worries a
shared rosary, you smile. Levitation fleeting.
12 / One last day given over to water. Streams we camped by,
pre-dawn fishing, your fingertips anticipating a pool’s
cool edge. I whisper, It’s okay to dive.
13 / This day of song. Three versions of your favorite,
an Irish ballad, ending with Elvis. On a high note,
on ink & ash & light.