Each evening I call home and my brother answers.
Each evening my rote patter, his unfailing cheer—
until he swivels; leans in, louder:
“It’s your daughter, Mom! Want to say
hello to Rita?” My surprise each time
that he still asks, believes in asking.
“Hello, Rita.” A good day, then;
the voice as fresh as I remember.
I close my eyes to savor it
but don’t need the dark to see her
younger than my daughter now,
wasp-waisted in her home-sewn coral satin
with all of Bebop yet to boogie through.
No wonder Orpheus, when he heard
the voice he’d played his lyre for
in the only season of his life that mattered,
could not believe she was anything
but who she’d always been to him, for him. . . .
Silence, open air. I know what’s coming,
wait for my brother’s “OK, now say
goodbye, Mom”—and her parroted reply:
That lucid, ghastly singing.
I put myself back into a trance
and keep talking: weather, gossip, news.
“Eurydice, Turning” from Playlist for the Apocalypse by Rita Dove. Copyright © 2021 by Rita Dove. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.