You can’t spend a few days there and skip town.
Which is probably just as well, though it almost seems
possible to fumble around in a bleached-out dream,
looking her up, calling from an old pay phone,

knocking on her door in the middle of the night like the police,
rousing her for an emergency decades away.
And you hear her fiddle with the lock on the other side, ease
the door open a crack, the light like Pompeii

before the blanket of ash. A familiar face — so much younger! —
peers out, befuddled, amused with sleep: “What the hell?
Hey, come in, come in. I had no idea you were . . .”
So you sit there having tea in the cramped, jovial

kitchen at 3 A.M., incapable of delivering
the news you have of what will finally happen
to her, a mother’s child, still calm and hopeful.
(The jaundiced, bloated flesh, the saffron skull

and pleading eyes.) You’re tired, very tired,
having carried the Devil’s Bible of this knowledge
across rippling black oceans and earthquaked roads,
through the Dopplerian clanging at the edge

of train stations, and soon you must go back
into the night, having left behind only a look,
an expression that will haunt her for the rest of her life,
a telegram that says urgent, but not why.