she woke me up at dawn,
her suitcase like a little brown dog at her heels.
i sat up and looked out the window
at the snow falling in the stand of blackjack trees.
a bus ticket in her hand.
then she brought something black up to her mouth,
a plum i thought, but it was an asthma inhaler.
i reached under the bed for my menthols
and she asked if i ever thought of cancer.
yes, i said, but always as a tree way up ahead
in the distance where it doesn’t matter.
and i suppose a dead soul must look back at that tree,
so far behind his wagon where it also doesn’t matter
except as a memory of rest or water.
though to believe any of that, i thought,
you have to accept the premise
that she woke me up at all.
words: david berman / “imagining defeat” from actual air
photo: iphone / hillside farmacy (austin, tx)