Four Minutes
Phebe Davidson

Closer to dawn, at almost four
with the wind more
from the west, she
will try to sleep

one more time, imagining the
ground dove’s quiet cry,
always grateful
that daylight’s dull

illumination does not come
quite yet, though from
bed she can see
night’s blackness ease.


She bathes him in the afternoon
thinking that soon
they will have to eat
their supper, treats

him as if he were a child though
she knows this mild
condescension is
killing him. His

body now is helplessly inert.
She always hurts
what she can’t help
and hates herself. 


Awake late at night in the kitchen     
she wonders which
of the children
to call, and when

she should get the car’s oil changed.
It seems so strange
—it’s almost twelve—
that the rolled shelf

paper she bought five years ago
still rests below
her countertop—
that things don’t stop.


It bothers her to touch him, now
that he’s cold. How
can it be? She
doesn’t know. She

remembers the feel of his good
wool coat. What should
she do with it?
God, let this not

be true.He is lying so still,
so gray. What will
she do tomorrow?
What is sorrow?

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