Maggie Butt

The End

begins with a call, like call to prayer,
a clamour of bells, wake-up alarm.
Alarm! Alarm! At the end of the phone
The nurse says carefully, “Come now.”
And my pulse drums Coming! Coming!

The front door bangs, running heels clack,
tube doors swish open and close,
open and close, like the chambers
of your weary heart. Girls chat
about tomorrow, as if it will come.

Out in the air, and racing, feet pound
the pavement’s chest, my breath hoarse
as a cough, blood crashes in waves
against traffic’s rumble and wheeze.
A woman with a suitcase holds out her hand

to halt me, ask the way, the time,
as if I knew. But I can’t stop, calling
to her over my shoulder, “I’m sorry.
Sorry.” Pigeons startle and take off,
the murmuration of their wings

lifts like a prayer. At your bedside
machines still whirr and beep faint
reassurance, so perhaps you hear
my voice, my tumbled promises, my love?
Your voice the first I heard, naming my name,

and mine your last, circling like that flight
of pigeons, calling down the years.