Song of the Living

by Lucy Ng

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Tea, mismatched cups
the scarred wood of her kitchen table;
her hand shaking
when she told me.

I tell her,
grasping her cool fingers;
for a moment,
I also see,
the beginning and the end
mapped out in shades of white and grey
delicate tracery of branches
imprint of disease.

I remember
their back yard
the sagging fence between our homes
tears, the smudged window glass
her husband smoking sausages
in that old broken-down refrigerator.
I remember
the dark mask of a smile
he wore
tending the fire.

Coffee, toast and dirty dishes;
I know the sound of your footstep on the stair,
the scratch of your key in the lock.
You and I
are partnered in a waking slumber,
an intricate dance
without music.

Why then,
this sudden luminous passion,
a cascade of song, like blood, flooding our ears?
Was it a consolation then,
that she loved,
and was loved?

Lucy Ng writes poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction.  She has been previously published in Many-Mouthed Birds:  An Anthology of Chinese Canadian Writing and Western Living Magazine.

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