Cloud Moving Hands

Cathy Song

Cloud moving hands,
hand moving clouds—
in the water, boundaries shift,
the skin sheds its tight perspective,
stretched into a vast shimmering.
I enter the sea to the level
where my vision brims at the surface.
The position of swimmers and small
boats skim across the field,
supported by an imperceptible current.
On a platform a woman performs
a series of movements.
She seems to float yet remain
deeply grounded.
She appears to be walking on water.

With one kick,
I bob between earth and sky,
suspended in a blue globe,
gently rocking.
Everything is as it should be.
To leave the body
when it is time
must be like this,
nothing more than giving one’s self
over to what is always
holding us, the soft lapping.

My mother lies on her back,
compressed into a pocket of bones.
At the appointed hour,
nurses flip her to one side
and then the other, to release
the pressure such tiny bones
leave on the skin, sores
that leak like grapes.
When they roll her over, her eyelids
flash open like a doll’s.

I drift, and in drifting, think of her.
I surround her with a circle of light.
Out of this intention,
the girl who has smiled at me
from the picture on my desk
emerges, vibrant and lithe, just shy
of sixteen, a year before she is to meet my father.
She slips out of bed, hair curled, already
dressed, as if she has been waiting
for the signal.

She sheds the old body
like a nightgown she is sick of wearing.
She walks out the door,
down the sunlit hall, like a teenager
tiptoeing past her parents’ room.
Once safely by the nurses’ station,
she begins to run.
I am afraid in her haste
she will not remember me,
but she does.
She does remember.
She turns and waves.
And then, into the skylight
she leaves in earnest,
she exits,
swimming toward the surface.

Clouds move hands,
hands move clouds—
gently lifted, gently supported.
Everything is as it should be.
I stroke through air,
I fly through water,
I send my mother home.


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