Rhina P. Espaillat


As if it mattered: still, you probe to trace
precisely when it was fate took and tossed
and overwhelmed you, find the very place
it was you stood on when you found–or lost–
the thing that mattered. When the envelope
slid through the slot, innocent as a stone;
what you were scrubbing when you wiped the soap
hastily on your apron, took the phone
and left the water running, out of breath
with interruptions, slow to grasp the news:
the baby's birthweight, say, or time of death,
or diagnosis, casual as a fuse;
or in some public room, the stranger's name
half-heard, and nothing afterward the same.

Rhina P. Espaillat, Her Place in These Designs, Truman
State University Press, 2005.