the cusp of October

moon staircase



Even though it’s early Spring here, I’m posting a poem in which I used the word cusp.

It’s a poem I wrote almost twenty-five years ago about a much-revered woman of wisdom in my life:




Her black Irish eyes,

practical as tile,

suddenly open like onyx wells

as she snaps out of sleep.

The ragged breath

slips and then catches

on the edge of the cliff

from which she hangs,

and she’s back in the bed, saying

What day is it?

What day?


It’s the cusp of October,

humid, tropical, storming through the long afternoon.

Delirious, she’s letting old secrets

slip out around the oxygen mask.

She’s emptying the last closets


where worries of the details of graduations,

anguish of lost colleges,

irreplaceable keys

quiver in the corners.


If the moon answers to the name

Old Woman Who Never Dies,

What should I call her,

whose waning hand holds mine

as she pulls away from me

into the air of the clean cold Sunday morning?


Hodler dying woman



<a href=””>Cusp</a&gt;


Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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