Imagining Defeat

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.

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Imagining Defeat