for Susan Perkins 1943-1979
By Judy Bebelaar

One filigreed wing bent up at an angle,
the rest of it smashed on the asphalt.

Susan died on a bend in the road
when a logging truck smashed into her.

I bent to pick it up;
the wing broke from the body.

I know she would have taken it up more carefully, if she’d been here;
we’d planned all those years ago when we were young to grow old together.

The way she would have painted it, each curving, scalloped black stripe,
the creamy gold of it, the narrow ragged edge where I broke it.

I went back to the bend in Lanney Road where I found the wing:
the rest was gone, smashed and blown away or picked up by someone like me.

Susan was driving; the trucker came around the bend, curved out of his lane.
She swerved, saved Arnold and their son Miles, ten, sitting between them.

Now, holding the wing up to the window, how the light shines through
the lacy veins where the scales have been scraped off.

Then, how Arnold’s piercing, bending cry from their bedroom,
smashed into me when he came home to the house so full, so empty.

The way, when I lifted it from the dresser to look at the arch of the wing,
it floated off —as if it wanted to fly.