Eleventh Hour

So this is how it ends.
Is that the carriage
which sees you home?

The evening begins
to draw its glittering
black curtains,
the minutes ticking

I can blithely discuss
such eventualities
until they finally stand
before me, round-eyed
with longing, a wistful
tilt of the head, as
though to say,
“What can be done
about it?”

You are reluctant to accept
my hand, bravely extended
to steady your footing.
I don’t want to help you
into the carriage that takes
you away from me,
any more than you wish
to take this final ride.

We gallantly keep such secrets
to ourselves, though my glistening
gaze betrays our shared misery.

It is as fine a carriage
as any, I reason.
We all know it will
do the job serviceably.
But the footman and coach
are nothing more than
coarse thugs whom I’d like
to return to their festering
gutters. Their only purpose
is to escort you to the
threshold of your home,
but why should Pain
and Suffering serve such
esteemed roles? If you
would allow me, I would
steer the carriage myself,
abandoning all to see you
safely home.

But you quietly brush
me away. Like a woman
in the throes of childbirth,
you understand that this
must be borne alone.
There is no way
but through, and

The valley
you will cross
to reach home
collects lengthening
shadows as our eyes
meet with a clumsy
tenderness, helpless
to slow the turning
wheels that grind
the dirt beneath them
as they roll.

Claire Juno, © 2021


…in honor of my dear 89 year old neighbor who stood bravely at the side of his daughter as she slipped away this week. May God’s peace rest on him and the family.