Arc of Light – poems

Death Dream


They say I don’t have long to live, maybe a couple weeks,

my mother tells me in a raspy voice as she sits


on the living room couch in a plum-coloured housecoat.

Who are they? I ask, after her words land like


a heavy stone in the pit of my stomach.

The ones preparing me to go, she replies as though


I should know. She tells me shadowy figures

appeared in her dream last night and she believes them.


I don’t want a fancy funeral, a simple casket like Dad’s will do.

What can you say to the voice of death, I wonder, my question


answered with I love you and a hug before she sits down

to cereal, milk, and her seven morning pills.


What’s Left of You


 A gold-and-crystal pineapple

made in Sweden,

two carved bone knives you brought

back from Alaska,

grey pearls in a navy velvet box,

a black-and-white sequined sweater

folded in my dresser,

a photo of you smiling among

red-and-pink roses,

your cookbook open to your mother’s

cabbage roll recipe,

a white china cherub

praying on my desk

beside dried rose petals

from your garden’s last bloom.



 Quiver of air against my cheek,

your face floats between light

and darkness before it dissolves,

a voice that says, I am always here.


Early Morning Omen


Black folded wings gleam

as I turn the bird over on the forest path,

stare at the yellow curled claws,

open mouth and thin tongue dangling.

I carry the bird up a small slope, cover it

with brown cedar boughs and offer a blessing

as a familiar ache opens in my heart,

trembling with grief.

Later, in my room, my mother’s face

floats between blackness and shimmering light.

Don’t grieve for me, she says smiling,

then disappears.

For two days I wait for her return.

On the third day, back on the path,

the trill of a bird rings through the forest,

the song clear and boundless through

the November air.


Arc of Light


Only later did I see it in the photo,

a white luminous arc floating over

my mother’s body as she lay

in bed the day before she died.


The more I looked at the image, the more

I realized she was already lifting from the body

that could no longer hold her here.


Yesterday I looked at the photo again

five years after her death.

The arc was still floating above her—

all softness and light.