Fever Dream

By Brian Nystrom

Now that my mother is gone

there is no one left to ask:

Did I have scarlet fever and was I near death

in kindergarten and did the sick bed quilt

dance and quiver before my eyes

with pirates? I remember my gift,

a heart murmur, heard by doctors

for years and now no more.

Or did I imagine the house,

grandmother in the guest bedroom

with her parakeet and dentures?

Now that mother is gone no one is left

to say: The fever dream of childhood

is all hallucination,

to murmur to the heat of my heart

that all memory is suspect and the living

and the dead lie side by side

in the shade of an elm

that has burst into flame.

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