R. Holt McAdams

Without the Song

She drove each Sunday then
Stood in a canary dress
Sang the numbered songs.
Now seated
Head down, hands folded
Her foot never stops tapping
Time to background music
We didn’t notice at first.
Surprising that eyes so dull
Could be so blue
Her appetite healthy.
Yet when weary aides
Sponge her gently, she keens
Oddly desperate at the touch.

Starlings cabineted in the sunroom
Murmur for a murmuration
The missing flock remembered
As they flitter behind glass
Not disturbing her nap
Neither shrill nor iridescent enough
To penetrate the thick and skyless gray.

Even when she no longer knows who I am,
She is happy to see me
And then, very slowly, and all too fast
She is not.

Our past
All the gestures of love and failure:
A brilliant stain
Stubborn but giving way
Fading with each pass of the sponge
Wiping the slate clean
Leaving fractured lyrics
Words mouthed without tune
Feathers without the song.



richard-mcadamsR. Holt McAdams studied English at the University of North Carolina and law at the University of Virginia. He teaches law at a Midwestern university, writes about law and literature, and tends to his pair of mischievous family dogs

%d bloggers like this: