In The Small Room of Our Last Visit

Hannah Ayla

My mother forgets that her hands dwell together, or how to close her bathrobe with these white moths flying in the window, meaning she no longer can slip a button through its assigned hole. Empty of rage, she already loves whatever lives above the ceiling. Today it’s her Aunt Rose, and they speak a while in Yiddish, my mother pointing to a lacquered box on her dresser. Later when I ask, she warns, Keep it closed, war and poison are no joke. Then her face lights up, as she tells me there is a creek outside her window and soon we will take a walk beside it. Meaning that she wants to sit outside her nursing home on her favorite stone bench in sun. I don’t tell her it’s raining outside. Or cold. Because what obstacles exist anymore on the clattering track of memory’s strange stations? Passengers on the same train, she says and kisses me, as if it was decided long ago that, at the end, we would hold hands in silence, her skin soft as a child’s, mine hardened: a signal that time has gone off the rails, right on schedule, with her departure gate in sight, by which I mean how fast the dream, how far forever, how soon the sleep.

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Julia B. Levine is the author of 5 collections of poetry, including Small Disasters Seen in Sunlight, (LSU, 2014), winner of the 2015 Northern California Book Award in Poetry. Currently she is the Poet Laureate of Davis, California, where she has designed a program to help young teens build resiliency around climate change using poetry, science and technology.

Photo credit: Hannah Ayla


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