It was at that last moment I woke to the pain My face pressed into the thin skin of her neck Skin kissed 90 years by sun & wind Husband, siblings, grandchildren, great-grandchildren Skin soft as satin Remarkably tan, even in February
I hid in that space My hand stroking hers My cheek pressing hers My ribs trembling in quiet heaves against hers Only she and I in the small room of people.
I can’t remember being alone with her like this.
It was seconds, minutes - But we stood outside of time And I know she felt it all.
When I once raised up, she quietly asked: You crying? Not with surprise or alarm But with knowledge, understanding
She’s said nothing about it all, No “hospice” or “dying” or “when I’m gone” But she did sign that paper - The one that says: Let me go. If she’s afraid, she doesn’t show it.
I tried to memorize her. She still smells good.
I searched for last words. It’s always only at the last moment A sort of panic rushes in-- When you thought it wouldn’t When you thought you were ready-- It surges like burning water rising Over the riverbed of your eyes, It finds a way out.
Yes, the salty current finds a way, But where are those last words? The ones that say what - maybe - hasn’t been said? I didn’t plan this part. Where are the words??
As it turns out, We had only these: I love you. I love you. I love you. And one secret.
But beyond words something more Took the place of eloquence, Uncontained by syllables or voice, Her blue-glass eyes, my earth-brown eyes Held onto each other and spoke A quiet goodbye.
-for Grandma Rogers, 2/26/2014