I AM PREGNANT WITH MY MOTHER'S DEATH
I grow great with her decline. When shall I be delivered?
I'll be there tomorrow, I say on the phone. She's amazed
when I arrive. Have you met my aide? she asks politely,
the same kind aide she's had for months.
She remembers to worry, Do you need more blankets?
Her radio loud in the airless house, the oxygen machine
humming and spitting as she curls on a waterproof pad.
Oooh, she moans in her sleep, Ooh, I'm sorry. Ooooh,
thank you. I love you. I'm sorry. I love you. Ooooh.
I wake her. A gradual smile blooms. I'm embarrassed,
she laughs, to be such a bag of bones. Her shrunken
skeleton kicks at my heart and inside my belly.
I'm the luckiest woman in the world, she tells me again,
I'm the luckiest woman in the world. Or else she says,
I'm the loveliest woman in the world, and doesn't notice
any difference. She touches my cheek.
This is something new in our shared lives, how she turns
so gentle. I labor hard with her. Forgiveness loosens
my stubborn bones. I am swollen with her love for me.
When shall I be delivered?
from Six Lips, Mayapple Press, 2009