By the next time you read this, we
will be two different people: me now,
who doesn’t know, and you then,
who do. Whatever happens, over time
you’ll forget, then invent the particulars.
You will wonder what I was thinking
at this moment, as I am wondering
at this moment what you already know:
Did she make it? Did she die?
This is not one of those poems
where the speaker imagines herself
back in that key scene. This is a poem
where that key scene is now:
the speaker is here, me, neck-deep
in these words, and my mother is
in an ambulance, on the way to the hospital,
having rolled and then been flung out
of a vehicle. The poem is happening
even as I type this. The poem is the question:
Will she live to be teased about her tumble?
Will the vegetable soup I made tonight
turn our stomach, that dish never to be
made again, its memories soured forever?
If she goes, how will your stories about her
begin to turn to lies? Because they will.
You will not be able to stop it. All I can
give you is this moment, which you can read
again after whatever happens happens:
Hello. It’s me. This is the present.
Your mother exists on this earth,
in pain, in slurred words, in a neck brace,
moving at eighty miles per hour
on a gurney in the back of
a loud, red-flashing truck.
The pot roast she made this afternoon
for your father still sits, even now,
warm in its pot on the stove.
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