Matter of Days | Amber Burke

A loveliness of spring days; a greenhouse of summer days; a darkening of fall days; a frost of winter days. A stammering of suitors, a bravery of suitors, a passion of suitors; a tryst of love affairs; a shackleton of romantic shipwrecks, many of them one’s own fault; an ancestry of neuroses; a neurosis of families, an estrangement of families; a reminiscence of drifting-away friends from one’s youth; a discovery of two pups; a clumsiness of pups; a gratitude of pups; a whoosh of pup-tails. A woof of days.

A foolishness of ambitions; a rookery of cities; a knock of adversities; a modesty of accomplishments; an independence of those who wisely disdain all collectives; an inurement of years over which one gradually accustoms oneself to solitude and obscurity; a creature of habits. A stasis of days. A waste of days? No: a loyalty of dogs, a dignity of dogs, a napping of dogs.

A flatulence of old dogs, a deafness of old dogs, a stagger of old dogs; a mercy of veterinarians; a trusting of… a gaze of… a softness of… A mourning of weeks, at least, and weeks again for the second. A gloom of days. A lurch of days.

A tenacity of false correlations, such as the death of one’s dogs causing pains in the body; a dread of demands; a superciliousness of scholars; an apathy of students; a hypochondria of excuses for not going to work; a leave of absences; a boredom of conversations; a headache of glasses of wine; a breach of plans to socialize; an umbrage of rebuffed acquaintances. A pact of dogs whom one agrees to bring home from the shelter as soon as they’re spayed. An expectancy of days. And yet: a hesitancy of days. A disquiet of days.

A trepidation of escalating, inexplicable symptoms that may not, after all, be depression or malingering; a scrutiny of tests; a toss of sleepless nights, a turn of sleepless nights; a blunder of diagnoses; a botch of mistakes; an impatience of in-patients; an exasperation of phone calls that should not have to be made to correct incompetencies that should not have occurred; a murder of CEOs; a righteousness of plans to murder CEOs in a valiant martyrdom if one is, in fact, diagnosed with a fatal disease; a crash of diagnoses; an ambush of doctors, a certainty of doctors; a remonstrance of reasons they all must be wrong. An incredulity of days. A thievery of days. An unfairness of days.

A guilt of calls from the shelter where two dogs are waiting to be picked up and now, clearly, won’t be. A poison of cures; a foundering of cures; a failure of cures. A paucity of elders who conveyed that death could be approached with equanimity. A brevity, a self-pity of days.

A tinselry of holiday decorations there now seems no point in; an abstention of unmade recipes; an embargo of unrealized travel plans; a tenderness of ideas for things that might still be done; a negotiation of ideas for how one might do them now; a sanitarium of pill bottles; an obsolescence of electronic devices with which one feels a strange kinship, their cords curled in a drawer; a pawnshop of once-prized possessions. A disembodiment of days.

A flustering of humiliations that were foreordained but still take one by surprise; a bedlam of soiled sheets; a reality of new realities; a cascade of falls. A fluorescence of hospitals. A matter of days.

A farewell of last meetings that were not recognized, at the time, as such; a cessation of plans for the completion of incomplete projects; a futility of vengeful thoughts; a surrendering of cherished hostilities; a sacristy of secrets that can now surely be kept because of the limited time remaining to share them; a duty of visitors, a pity of visitors, a wincing of visitors, a humoring of visitors, a casting-out of visitors. A pretense of repeatedly closing one’s eyes in imitation of sleep. A cruelty of mirrors; an unbecomingness of bodily hair or odors of which one is still aware of but is helpless to better; a humility of bodily ministrations; a grief of tubes; a fortitude of things thought to be unendurable that prove to be endurable, at least for a short time. A mirage of prior priorities; a pride of epiphanies; a paragon of virtues, like acceptance; a perfection of patients. A remarkable composure of days.

A heresy of rites from an unbelieved-in religion; a forgiveness of sins standing like black-sheeted ghosts all around; a fondness of memories, a childhood of memories; a heart of queens; a pearl of strings; a dawn of cracks; a panic of rising, a panic of screams. A flustering of nurses, a compassion of nurses, a dove of nurses. A water of drink; a speech of figures; a stare of objects; a truth of moments, a truth of rings; a riches of embarrassments; a swan of lamentations; a starling of murmurations. A shhh now of days.

A needle of

A no of

A who will take care of?

A closet of

A cabinet of

A stack of

A why of

A wait of

A waving of

A moon of

A then of

A parting of

A shimmer of

An astonishment of

A there of

A trusting of

A gaze of

A softness of


A light of the dying; a beauty of last refusals of the inevitable in which the spirit rises up and one seems whole and well and the immortality of the body seems real and possible finally; a grace of moments when the breath steadies and quiets, like a road gone smooth under a rickety carriage; an apotheosis of collectives, the undeniable collective: a death of the living; an earth of the dead.

A preciousness of days.

Amber Burke is a graduate of Yale and the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars who teaches writing and yoga at the University of New Mexico in Taos. Her creative work has been published in literary magazines including The Sun, Michigan Quarterly Review, Raleigh Review, Superstition Review, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Quarterly West, and Flyway Journal. She’s also a regular contributor to Yoga International, which has published over one hundred of her articles and the ebook she co-authored, Yoga for Common Conditions. 

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