Family dinner on a winter porch.
Our table, too large, squeezes us
against fogged glass. My chair wobbles.
Others, more privileged, are eating
inside the house. I complain, but
someone whispers the man who shares
the house is sick, it may be cancer.
The others crowd onto the porch.
My chair collapses. I reach for
another, not to sit on but to hold
the glass of water at my bedside.
Outstretched, I watch the procession:
a baby rhino, a zebra, a lion,
a giraffe swaying its long neck
like the maestro’s baton. A gnu,
alone. Behind the animals comes
a strapping man outfitted for safari,
his head smoother than marble, his face
youthful and cold. He commands,
Spend your last days with me.
Now the film winds back and the scene
replays: the solemn parade
of animals, the white hunter fixing
me with glacial eyes. And now
I recognize the porch.
Aunt Lila’s husband died there
not long after I was born.
Photo by Galyna Andrushko