Pink cap over shadow’s scalp,
skin papered, pale, transparent.
A child watches,
color flowering from this forever bed
as we teach the ways to say goodbye.
Driving through the night,
I listened to your memory
for an uncoordinated time
as you never should have been,
ought to remain:
a Picasso woman
(laughing in your mirror at the top of my stair)
one ghost of a breast
where surgeons carved at your cancer
like bad spots from an apple.
Now, less fifty pounds,
carrying more years
than you’ve been given,
lying in hospital
facing the ironies of dying.
These hours seek distraction:
Nurses percolate through echoed halls.
A husband, son, cousins
force their conversation—
construction & farming, church & family,
cheerful, bland, sincere, devastated.
I arrive with a final bloodless daughter,
woman you helped raise.
is what raises you from the dead
hours of long coma,
when only the question remained
of what more there was to keep you
here. Her kiss releasing.
Shiver, shudder of breath,
a final thundercrack whisper.
This is a reprint of work originally published in Goodreads.
Jeffrey Heath formerly lived as a cat stalking the shores of South Florida. He currently lives in Memphis, TN, where he works for a non-profit. His work has appeared online and in print in Poetry Super Highway/em>, Eunoia Review, Synesthesia Literary Journal, The Syzygy Poetry Journal, Amaryllis, and as a Goodreads monthly feature, among others.