I have stopped reading the last page of novels—
now the horse drags the rider down the lane
and through the sugarcane field
to the impossibly brown sea
and that’s where they stop, just short.
Now the sun turns to look.
I have stopped believing what’s next:
I have laid down my knitting of time.
I have left the pillowcase off
of the perfect afternoon.
As for the final square of chocolate,
stay there uneaten, my shiny, silver joy.
I have stopped smoking every cigarette.
I have stopped cutting the cut grass.
Oh, little bird, abide with me
before the stars go out,
before the handle turns,
before the floorboards creak awake,
before anyone rises to a bell.
Pertaining to the spirit, I can only suggest
try a cool washcloth for the heat.
I have driven off without my change,
stopped one block shy
of the last block on earth.
Mom, go back to your hospital room, your lilac
nightgown still on your small shoulders.