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          First Wail
          By Elizabeth Sosaya

          I want to know what she knew then,
          on a morning in mid-August,
          taking her time as if resisting her
          entrance into life and the east
          room reddened by the sun's first rays.

          If we're born with presentiment
          surely it's stored in a place
          guarded and shut like a seed
          closed in upon itself and opening
          only when every atom knows it's time.

          I know in the crib, she never
          woke without a cry, would come
          out of slumber in a caterwaul
          of sorrow and later, age three or four,
          would wander through the house
          weeping out of her sleep.

          Yet thinking back on the illness
          she seemed calm, and I watched how,
          as she viewed the x-ray,
          she reached into her purse to apply
          the lip protector as if this were nothing,

          as if the spots up there on the screen,
          her lungs in shades of black and white
          meant nothing, as if she wasn't concerned,
          as if she'd known all along that this time
          would come and another on a late Sunday
          night taking her leave.

          She didn't say goodbye then.
          We could have been strangers
          watching her take her last breath,
          so much like when she took that long
          wet, inhalation before her first wail.

          © Copyright 2004, Elizabeth Sosaya, All Rights Reserved

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Document last modified on: 03/06/2005

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