And After, No One Lowered Their Flag

Shift in the viscera’s tectonics. Your body was
to be as any other glass chapel in a fracturing land:
code blue, cold lips the color of early light at dawn.
Yes, it seems, even in death, some part of us succumbs
to American pageantry: the way your hand clasped
your heart as you collapsed to the hardwood.
This is what I hold in mind
in study of broken windows, the pattern
of fracture, its dendritic limbs, the ever finer fingers
reaching into what once, with clarity, held, as it passed, life.
If you were here, I would ask, if you believed
we can grasp, not the instance alone, but the act
of shattering, if the hairline break in the ankle bone
of some fossilized ungulate is an inscription of structure
governing prey and predation, given as I am
to seek the grand abstraction that poses as explanation,
and thinking, if the dead know anything, they must know
the sound of that biggest symphony, where we hear nothing
but the pluck of one string. I am still listening to particulars
still listening to the misdiagnosis, still seeing
the orange morning opening like a crusted wound
above the gas station and the man who watched
me careen into the parking lot, roll down my window,
and shout, Where is the hospital, in silence, turning his back.
The owners, days before you died, asking you to just do your best
to manage the finances from the ICU. The insurance adjuster’s
dulcet hiss in the phone for days. You, twisting in the front seat
of that red hatchback at a red light, a scream scoring your throat:
a note sharper than a neighbor’s glare—another glass shard
fallen from the broken anthem of this breaking place:
the hometown, the county, the country where we found ourselves
lost, when you said from the bedroom floor, hand over your heart:
Don’t call an ambulance. I can’t afford an ambulance.