She couldn’t possibly have married him
but she has learned the code he speaks
and sometimes she can speak it. His call
as from a distant continent, lurid sound
in early-morning dark: I’m 1-A
on the transplant list. Or A-1.
She tilts between now and a series of thens,
some fifty years old – his heartbeat
trembling the bones of her cheek - hotel rooms,
Gulf-coast beaches. On her way
to Quebec, the opposite direction, she waits
for her plane amid flurries of slang,
a high-school choral-group bound home.
If they spoke English she might be diverted
but these are periodic nouns abloom
in slushy sibilants. She drifts. Strands
of song like aural spiderweb cross airport space,
design of truth beyond what he could say,
the last loved man, who’s known her
broken, open. She resonates to his struck A
across the thousand miles. One day she heard
a group of EKGs transcribed as quarter-notes,
laid on staves and played: strong hearts sing
ornamented melodies, sick hearts lines
plain as early chants. All over the world
people are going places and he lies as if dead,
a man with a hole in his chest. Loved flesh.
She hears the rhythmic slosh of pumps
under engine-noise. Time zings and pools.
She imagines fever charts and what she knows
will happen does. She isn’t family. The nurses
will refuse to speak and he will not be able to.
She’s never been the other woman.
She’s been the one before, between, and after.
She comes to know to be beside oneself
and tells herself in the third person
She chose not to be with you so she can’t
be with you. Years go. For a time
they lived through days without each other,
sweetness a bright silent phosphorous
streaming through shallows of familiar seas,
soft breezes over tropic nights and terror.