Valli-In Memoriam

By Carol Muske

As she died, she became more beautiful.
That afternoon I saw her, near the end
of summer- she looked re-made, a pure echo
of herself, a voice thrown back from a great
distance within- but clear, resonant. She wanted
to live. Her hair had grown back in a shining
curve and her face revealed nothing of her suffering-
she looked young, expectant. But then, how else was
she supposed to appear, what else was she supposed to say
-drifting shyly into a silly party, every gaze on her?
That she was dying and afraid to die, that her life had been
made of leave-takings, that her breasts had been stripped away,

that her very name meant farewell? Now, when I dream of her,
she is speaking openly, enunciating, but without the sound, like
the stray dogs she kept and loved. so many of them, barking
soundlessly, their voices extracted so that no-one would complain,
no-one would say they were a nuisance. Now I wonder how
she found those creatures, how she tracked them down
in their illness and fear-coaxing them out of hiding,
persuading them to follow her into that silent animated world-
where she presided first as saviour, then as one of them, after the knife.