AFTERWARDS

AFTERWARDS
by Elizabeth Crowell

First, it has just happened,
that day so swollen, it
cannot be recognized
as time – and then there is
the second day, shrunken
like that balsam figure
of a tortured, loved saint
you saw in a museum.
(You cannot remember
where.) The third day is loud,
as in a stadium;
everyone tells you things.
The fourth feels like regret
disproportionate to
a dead child – further than
you thought, the hat you left
on the hotel room door,
the golf ball set in air
that sank in a clear pond.
And then it is five days.
Already, you have to
count back and already
you remind yourself that
your child died in your arms.
You cannot remember
what the weight of not quite
two pounds or hours was.
On the sixth day, there is
more deep sky, snow shuffle,
filling; a week has passed.
You start to hear a click
at the time it happened
and you know, this is loss,
the fact you only get
the measure of the loss,
beat of his unbeating
heart, his moon-clock face
you check your watch against.

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