“The Blue Blanket” by Sue Ellen Thompson

The Writer’s Almanac – MARCH 21 – 27, 2005

“The Blue Blanket” by Sue Ellen Thompson

Toward the end, my father argued
with my mother over everything: He wanted
her to eat again. He wanted her to take

her medicine. He wanted her
to live. He argued with her in their bed
at naptime. He was cold, he said,

tugging at the blanket tangled
in my mother’s wasted limbs. From the hall
outside their room I listened

as love, caught and fettered, howled
at its captors, gnawing at its own flesh
in its frenzy to escape. Then I entered

without knocking, freed the blanket
trapped between my mother’s knees and shook
it out once, high above

their bodies’ cursive. It floated
for a moment, blue as the Italian sky
into which my father flew his bombs

in 1943, blue as the hat I’d bought her
for the winter she would never live
to see. My father’s agitation eased,

my mother smiled up at me, her face
lucent with gratitude, as the blanket
sifted down on them like earth.

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