My mother never dreams at night
But breathes instead through purple lips
Sucking air into dark, withered sacs.
Like the last runner, dogging on,
Her bulging eyes fix on the tattered yellow tape.
She will not give up: to catch her thoughts,
She would lose her pace: her push to exhale
Drifts beyond muscle and even memory.
J. Howard teaches English at Montgomery College–Rockville and is the technology editor of the Potomac Review. A near-lifelong resident of the DC area, she attended the University of Maryland and Georgetown University. Her work has appeared in Cabin Fever: Poets at Joaquin Miller’s Cabin, 1984-2001 and Winners: A Retrospective of the Washington Prize.