It has been six months since my grandmother’s passing. Sometimes things like art grow still inside a grieving heart. Perhaps I’m ready to write again. Time will tell.
She was singing a year ago,
Thanksgiving in our kitchen,
Which is why I remember it.
Now I watch, through the narrow slit of a newly painted white doorway
Listen for her rattled breath behind the door.
Mother, I say into the phone, you need to come back home.
While we wait for her, the mother / the daughter, I sing
Ease her into sleep—
Lyrics fall through translucent skin
They land upon the mattress underneath her.
I’m not ready—
I say these words out loud I speak them like a prayer over her white nightgown—
Everything in here is white
Except her lips are turning blue.
She could be anybody’s grandmother
But she is mine
I’m not ready.
Do you know who I am?
She is already too far away.
I should tell her it’s okay to let go
I should seal her lips with mine and say goodbye
Instead I seal her lips with mine and breath to keep her living.
My fingers run the hem of her nightgown
Lace and yellow roses,
Her breath moves through the bedroom like a bird
I cannot catch it.
Instead, I fill a teacup with white wine
And light a cigarette.
Instead, I get in bed with her, the living and the dead;
I draw out the last love from her skin
I get in bed with her,
Place a few words on the nape of her neck
And cover them with hair
So no one else can find them.
We save her for the next day
Light a candle for the smell—
Her skin like marble
Lips like sapphire
I’d like to bury her with crystals in the yard.
Instead, I gather herbs and place them in her hands
Ask her if I might keep the pyrex in the kitchen.