There are no clear instructions for waving goodbye
to the woman in red flannel. Mother. Old spine.
She claws herself upright, stands
against the crumbling door jamb, dinosaur bird
waving back at me. There are no
instructions for when the parent says no
except for the heart to carapace,
wait her out through another snow,
let the forms for Maple Grove pulse with ink,
the signature line wash white with storm.
I no longer wonder if a goodbye is the last,
ask instead how a body can last so long.
* * *
This poem originally appeared in Prairie Schooner, Spring 2017.