(in Lawrence, Kansas some years ago)
Maybe some days my neck hurts because of the cord
around it-- here I pause to write my mother, "How many
times was the cord around my neck?" Poor little mom,
round-bellied and small alone on a flat surface
in a building in Kansas. I always imagine the right angles
of the bed she was on, and of any windows, and of
the building. Attending nurses and the terrible costumed
quality of their uniforms back then (early '70s). Somewhere
a ways away, though, the Kaw River wound past
morning, moving toward noon. And you may imagine
that Kansas is flat, but Lawrence is hilly, by the campus,
at least, where I would attend as a nymph of Mt. Oread,
or whatever, walking under stars to sit on a swing set
with Jason or whoever I was with, feeling our childhood
slip out of our bodies, like the spirit almost slipped out
of my body and maybe my small mom's that day.
I'd intended to keep writing lines until she wrote back
to say, "Six times, and we almost died."
I think it was six.