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October 2018, vol 14 no 3

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Bill Gottlieb

A Wasting Way

This afternoon I found out that a friend – the best friend of my deceased wife, four years ago a casualty of cancer – has been diagnosed with ALS. In a few years she’ll be dead – but not before the fibers of her muscles are useless, useless as a knot of necklaces in a locked box in a blazing house, her words a useless slur, a sibylline plea for release.

I remember her standing in my kitchen when my dead wife D – I liked to call her that, D – was in the hospital. I thanked her – for feeding me, a mealtime moron; for lifting D’s heart with consecrating kindness – and cried. Her eyes – brown, I believe – shed a hint of tears, not drops but a steamy dew, a condensation of mortality.

Before dark I took a walk with my wife and dog. The top of Cobb – a mountain demolished by fire, sooty trunks like a fatality of fingers, a decapitated reach – was covered in snow. In a sad flash I saw a spiny ridge of frozen neurons, every way enervated, every signal silenced in a whiteout. And then out of somewhere a rage of crows careered into the crowns of nearby pines, mobbing and bombing a being I couldn’t make out – a beset spirit, no doubt, evading to invisibility.

her gaze turns
my mind to stone
full moon