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Lost NickelsTo Janet Buck's previous piece

Turning Fish

You had your seatbelt on for death --
but this was obsidian night 
and I was virtually blind.
I wasn't about to drive you there.
Those last two days, where flesh 
was fish about to turn -- 
and the river of time
ran slowly like wax
when the candle just knows
a wick is facing the horrible pinch.
Your breasts, their alabaster twins 
in speckled hills, settled some 
above the jails of your ribs.
A crusty negligee of gauze
grazing the clottable vein.

A morphine drip for summer showers
in August heat so stifling
it could be ovens locked on clean.
Minutes fell in tacky wigs --
exposing the bald, bald dome.
A spider trace of gray-white hair
locked itself around my hand
like fingers of a hungry child.
A book lay on my useless lap --
a rag that smelled of turpentine
to hurry the colorless dawn.
Prayers were there, but peeling things -- 
lousy maids who smoked cigars,
who didn't scrub between the cracks. 
Your skin had that tortilla texture --
knowledge of the crumbling.
I stared at the mirror -- 
afraid of the chilling soup -- 
my reticent eyes locked on glass,
on portals of the sluggish fly.

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