71: coma, canto 20

Surely the heavens don’t play favorites? No,
of course not, yet there is a hue that can be heard
when what is meets what might be and the color

of cherish develops in the center of the sky

canto 20

my mother called
and said, Come. Come
over now, to see your
when I came, rushing,
with Lucy
behind me
with her little hands
turning like wind catchers
in a light breeze,
into the house, where he sat
at the couch with a book
and said, Aha, see,
and he read from the book
every third word he saw
because that was what he could see.

my father began to see in threes,
sentences, and the complexity
of feeling, in threes, reading,
but wholes, remembering.

He read me this:
patients craniectomy compared.
See, he said, soon he said,
they’ll all be back. His face
like a lamp there on the couch,
Lucy, saying, It’s amazing,
my mother with a few tears
on her cheek.
I said, In threes. What does it mean?

Wholes excised into threes:
God’s number, he said,
and she agreed, and she agreed.
Who’s meaning is completeness.
But also, he said, some aspect
of recovery’s secret, motioned
by divine motions, triptychs,
triples, triads, triumvirates,
and troikas,
a corner, an approach, a rope
in succession or ordering
(I thought about the corner,
a person getting closer,
the image of the rope. He said:
I thought, yes, we may make passage
this way)
trinity in the end.

he’ll pray like Christ
did on his day of reckoning,
my mother said,
and when things calmed,
dinner over,
I asked my father:
but why divine, why
not some measure
only of the brain’s efficiency,
as threes are manageable
more than fours or sevens?

my mother motioned
the tines of a fork my way,
which come in fours,
saying: don’t ruin it,
don’t ruin it, the way
you always do.

my father reading, said,
from the sonnets:
Three . . .
Have . . . forests shook . . . pride,
. . . springs
and gave me remonstration
from his ellipses suffering
brain. I gave him my palms,
which then meant peace,
and I smiled because
that night I knew sleep
would be easier.

but before sleep Lucy
stood at the door to my room
soon for her place on the couch.
She said: why can’t you just let
him have some hope, her some hope.
I can, I said. He can have it.
But there are disappointments
and there are tenderer ones.
The rope holding a climber
can break. He says, as he falls,
that’s disappointing.