In the Minds of Three Sisters

By Scott Cairns

             1. The Believer

Her father has now gone to be with God, and so
this emptiness—the body—means very little,
left, as it is, so utterly behind, almost
beneath the dignity of her attention.
She looks from one weeping witness to the other,
and though she is also weeping, she asks them
with her eyes, Why do you weep? He is not here.

             2. The Unbeliever

The stillness is unbearable, but she will bear it,
Will find in time a manner of recalling
The man’s dissolution as complete, something
Of a relief. He is surely not beyond pain,
But the pain is gone—as the life is gone—and his
Body rests, cooling, glazed with the last evidence,
Last oils, of an impossibly wearied engine.

             3. The Other

As he shuts down for good, the room itself goes slack.
What pain he knew has leapt into her throat, and so
she swallows it, and keeps it there to grow into
a kind of dread. She alone will set her lips to his,
and smooth his face, and will retain this bleak tableau
as first communion with the flesh, and with the dire
puzzlement the body held, holds, insinuates.

“In the Minds of Three Sisters” from Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems by Scott Cairns. Copyright © 2015 by Scott CairnsUsed by permission of Paraclete Press.