Her feet land slowly one by one
on each wooden step -
a memorized (could do it
blindfolded) flight of stairs.
A million times she’s walked
apartment to entrance to street.
In her sleepwalker-outstretched arms
a bundle, wide, flat
wrapped in a blanket soft as night rain
green as summer woods.
This is noon, clear skies, January.
She wears a shift, her other children
at most a pair of sweats,
the women behind her
short-sleeve shirts, a cardigan navy blue.
Across the street I hide
from the frozen fist of wind.
Who wouldn’t move earth by handfuls
to spin this mother’s journey into reverse,
to stop the hearse from parking,
unlatching its wide door.
To push back the stretcher
dangling like a tongue
from the open, waiting mouth.