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Autumn Crickets

Barry Sternlieb

As late sun fades
through the haze
of their sound,
you gently brush
your mother’s white hair,
fix her pillows
and clean her glasses
so she can read the paper
then fall asleep.
Outside, fields revive
the sense of ending,
a pulse that grows
fainter every day,
hearts failing like beauty
on the path to itself,
but now you’re afraid
because in the perfect
clutter of this farmhouse,
the only thing
there has never been
room for is absence.
Reading the obituaries,
a mystified look
comes over her face,
a sudden confusion when
she can’t find her name.
Didn’t you tell anyone?
With the last round
of crickets drifting off,
you patiently explain
that she isn’t dead yet,
then smiling at the strange
and funny sadness of this
unexpected gift, you kiss
her luminous hand.