imagining defeat

shoes

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)

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5 thoughts on “imagining defeat

  1. That’s such a great poem.

    “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.”

    Love that so much.

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