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. 
he 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

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