20 July 2011 for Martha Miles Wilbur I drive toward my mother’s death through chicory and Queen Anne’s lace, a perfect Virginia morning— humidity rising to afternoon thunder, rain. Telemann’s Concerto for Three Horns is on NPR, stirring the silence of the car like a visitation beyond the breath. In farmland rolls, the Medical Center lies like a toy left on the living room rug— mirrored glass, pastel painted steel, red brick— the dangerous place to be. The call came too early, coffee gulped, toast, nibbled through the miles, too late for one last conscious hug. Three generations converge to bless, and tell stories as if to cleanse what kidneys could not in a spending vigil for her long life. She will be empty of her things, her saving— collections of porcelain dolls, folk tin ware. . . As executor, I will throw out with a vehemence she used to acquire, will distribute to siblings what remains. Her motherness is her body donation. On the Medical Center’s round lobby floor, under urgent feet is a huge compass rose, rendered in pink, dun, and white granite terrazzo. And leaving, I hesitate, eyes closed, at the balance point of black, receive her final reprimand.