Over 40 years
at the cutting edge
of poetry publishing
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Elizabeth Barrett, from A Dart of Green and Blue

Kingfisher

In those last days she objected (gently)
to the trays of drugs the nurses brought:
I'm not a kingfisher she told me.
Swallowing was hard. She hadn't caught
those pills in river light — didn't have the king
bird's knack of flicking them in the air
until they perfect-angled down the o-ring
of her open throat. Her daily catch was square—
or zeppelin-shaped. She had to get
the pitch just right so they would slip
like silver fish into her failing gullet —
otherwise she'd gag on them, be sick.
On her last day they pumped morphine through
her veins. I waited. Watched. It only took one
hour before a dart of brilliant green and blue
flashed past me (heading somewhere) and was gone.