My mother sings of love

In the common room, the nurses wave
            their arms as if conducting a symphony— 

Almost folded over in her chair,  my mother 
            opens her mouth: pale-headed bird

with arms enclosed in soft volumes of
           sweater sleeves. By what emerges,

it's clear she still remembers the lyrics
           of a love song: whole segments with  

refrains about promises, but also unfaithful 
           loves. She used to practice standing

by the piano, folding both hands close to
           her chest so the slightest pressure 

produced a marbled vibrato pulsing. She
           has it, still— how to send that voice up

the ladder of the throat from out of some 
           deeper unknown, as though testing the exit

she'll surely take one day into the rarer air
           surrounding this temporary home in the world.

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