Cara Dees



                    She'd given you an impossible task:
                    she said to follow and you intended to.
                                            —Brenda Hillman


Halfway up the steps the blood's clamor stands
silenced. We slant down, my arm between you
and the stripped pine that would rise to you.
I need to rest. Fingers gray on the washed

knots, you balance. The night, directionless,
sways and balances. Between the queen bed
(of metal, of feather) you can't climb to
and the hospital bed (plastic on pine)

you refuse to occupy, stairs occur
endlessly. Here is the sick hook, the catch
in the breath between wanting and struck need—
waiting weak-armed, ashamed, for my father

to brook the solid cold back to our house
and hoist you upwards, to a crawl again.