Georganna Millman

Set Theory
      -for Josh

The January has passed.
As predicted, an arctic front moves in

and my son leaves for a weekend ski trip.
It is on me to tell him the old black lab
has two days left in her.

Frames and boundaries expose the motion
between relationships, friction
along the continuum, space
set aside for loneliness.
The saturated ground submits.
Rocks heave and tumble.
Runlets freeze, ice walls.
The atmosphere gives up its moisture
so that snow falls when the stars are out.

My son returns and goes straight to his room.
Knowing what I know,
I open the door clearly marked Private,
he sleeps off the mountain air.
His face has changed.
I have been waiting in this intersection
of time to see the man he is becoming,

a man about to learn
some things happen just as I say.
His dog lies beside him on the bed.
She has passed on.

"Her Royal Nibs"

The last time I heard that expression used
I was a little girl and mom was saying how
dad had taken up another lady-friend,
how this much younger woman lived with
her step-father at the end of a dead-end road,
how she had moved back into his house
right after her mother died, right after
the man had backed his car over his wife.

Salvation is what tied me to the course,
that feeling of being square with the house,

making a way along the rail,
leaving a past in the mud.

But just like that- it caught up to me because
of a horse- a long shot named Her Royal Nibs
that ran today at Saratoga. My husband drove
three hours, bucking the Northway traffic on
race day just so I could bet on her, to see her win
by eight lengths.

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