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.