Stroke of October

It’s the edge of midnight
and it’s already over;
the blade has fallen,
probably fell days ago,
a week.
Too late to know now,
to tease out the memory
of the first moment
you noticed.

Do you recall? they asked,
fingering their chins;
but no, there was
no clear nowness
no peal of fate
marking this cleft
in your life,
the invisible,
indelible mark
in your brain.

You walked
through the door tonight,
saw me, and
your face crumpled,
your body foundering into mine,
as I stroked your cheek.
You’ve been so strong,
since the first symptoms,
all through this
latest diagnosis;
Shh, shh my darling
You don’t need
to be strong right now
You’re home, I’m here.

You say: God, I don’t want
my life to change again.
And it is changed, more
than just an occasional cane,
it’s — another — whole new page;
ever since that
anonymous moment,
the stroke that fell
between yesterday’s life,
and today’s.

You said you were afraid
to sleep now, for fear
of another unseen scalpel
slicing your life into new
segments of crisis and fallout,
the befores, and all the
unwanted afters.
Shadows of wheelchairs.
Despite this you are
asleep at last
and I lie beside you,
awake and wet-faced,
afraid to touch your cheek,
matching the
miraculous rhythm
of your breath.

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