Bio Note: A Washington based author, poet, and educator, my poems and stories have appeared in many international literary magazines, journals and anthologies such as Sparks of Calliope: A journal of Poetic Observation, Verse-Virtual, and The Fib Review. My most recent poetry/fiction collections include Rags & Feathers, Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories, and Serpent’s Tooth: Poems. Currently, I enjoy writing, turning wood, participating in “virtual” poetry readings, and fishing along the Hood Canal.
For Coco, my sister: 1956-2021 Seated at your deathbed vigil, the ultimate watch, Kevin and I held your hands, Coco, spoke to you of past hobbies, how you kissed slimy frogs, starting when you were five, how you escorted princes, collected amphibians. As the shadows swelled and the morphine and saline drips increased, we read poems to you, played music. For you, we tried to keep contemplative, afraid to close our rusty eyes, uncertain when they would reopen. We couldn’t risk even a brief, selfish shutdown— couldn’t leave you, now speechless, to face courageously though unconsciously, one final journey alone, comforted only by the sound of two snoring brothers. Somehow, our eyes stayed open as your pulse grew feeble, your skin became clammy and your breathing patterns altered. Then the expiring rattle echoed, shattered barriers, passed through closed hospital doors intended to shelter other terminal patients from reminders that they too soon will die. Your warm body grew cold, and only a cell phone remained on your pillow filled with words of love mentioned too infrequently while you lived. Allow Dylan Thomas to rage against the “dying light.” You, our sister, transitioned calmly, passed gently.
Receding soft waves reveal a mausoleum entrance to three pits near Xi'an, China— terminal magnificence like our relationship flaunts subdued yet overpowering splendor as individually crafted and adorned as terracotta soldiers lurking in shadows waiting for cues to rise from the dead march rank and file against sealed caves, eternity’s necropolis buried beneath layers of ancestral bones. Quiescent. Resting. Waiting. Inertly vigilant. Moisture seeps from lower walls watermark stains leave a liquid wainscoting excavation above sends echoes below; we too remain ready, to act or retreat ever present much like minerals, we decorate each other’s stark character tattooing impressions on arms, legs, and lips ensuring our legacy’s immortalized by passion and purpose rather than caution and greed stabilizing our stance like a clay army reanimated by threats: shovels intruding bliss.
©2021 Sterling Warner
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