She was raised when families ate their shadows, washed down blood with cold whole milk, polite as folded napkins in a row. I hear her swallow catch when I ask her how she’s feeling, her same old chirp it is what it is. I clench my words even as I watch her lose herself, a book stripped of pages, a hollow cover. It’s happening the way it happened to her mother:
she will be unbound. Every page will float down the river.
Before she sits across the narrow table, I tuck a moth’s wings like a note into my pocket and the name of the moth is longing. There is an antiseptic hospice bed. A nurse’s hand is turning down the sheet for us. A cracked egg, blue as truth, falls to the flattened grass from the nest of a bird made of glass. When I turn the egg, a churning mass of maggots has drunk the yellow yolk.
Make it a bed of cedar chips. Leave a window in the ceiling so it can watch the stars. Speak to it. Feed it hair torn from your own scalp. Let it drink from a crystal bowl brim full with sweat skimmed from your body. Give it the sacred you gather. It is quiet, with no chords to vibrate, but do not ignore it, or lightning will flash out and never come again. Even if you call, it will remember when you left it chained up in December. It will not forgive you.